Suit Against Methodist Church : Ogun Court to Rule on Claimants’ Application July 3
A Sagamu High Court in Ogun on Friday fixed July 3 for ruling on an application to compel the Methodist Church of Nigeria, the Sagmu Local Government and other defendants to render full account of monies collected by them and other dealings on a landed property belonging to Efure Community in Sagamu.
Justice A.A. Babawale gave the ruling after listening to arguments by the community’s team of lawyers led by Mr Babatunde Oshilaja.
On April 16, the community had instituted a suit against a foreign company, Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Trust Association Ltd, the Registrar of Titles in Ogun State, the Methodist Church of Nigeria, the Sagamu Local Government Council and five other defendants.
The claimants are Samuel Banjo, Emmanuel Adelesi, Kolawole Odugbesi and Mansur Baruwa-Banjo, who had sought injunctive reliefs against the defendants.
They are seeking an order to compel the church, the council and others to refund monies due them as the owners of the land after the enquiry.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that only the counsel to Sagamu Local Government, Miss Jadesola Oresanya, and the claimants’ counsel were present in court. Other defendants’ counsel were absent at Friday’s proceedings.
Oresanya did not object to the application but asked for an adjournment to enable the council to file a response to the claimants’summons.
While urging the court to grant the claimants’ prayers, Oshilaja submitted that the affidavit evidence and exhibits attached were enough to “persuade’’ the court not only to direct any necessary account to be taken or inquiries to be made, but to also order that any amount certified due to the claimants be paid to them by the defendants jointly and severally within a specified time”.
He referred to the affidavit sworn to by one Mr Olawale Ajia in support of the summons where the claimants established that the defendants breached all terms and conditions of the lease by using the land for purposes other than what is specified in the lease, thereby making “secret profits’’.
According to Oshilaja, the sole purpose for leasing the land to the church for one shilling in 1931 for 99 years was for the establishment of a boarding school and houses for the residences of European Principals.
Rather, the church later converted the land to an illegal and commercial exploitation including letting it out as venue for social parties and also built events centres, guest houses, sawmills and burial vaults.
He argued that the defendants had made themselves “constructive trustees, agents and fiduciaries to keep true and accurate accounts of all transactions including full particulars of all receipts and payments substantiated by vouchers for which they are responsible.”
Oshilaja said the claimants were entitled to a full rendition of the accounts in the possession of the defendants.
The counsel urged the court not to allow the defendants to keep the monies they made unlawfully from unauthorized use of the land. (NAN)