A Lagos High Court judge, Justice Iyabo Akinkugbe, on Friday ordered the Mushin Local Government Area authority to suspend its plan to demolish part of the popular Ladipo Auto Spare Parts Market for the purpose of re-development.
Akinkugbe said it would only be in the interest of justice that the LGA put its demolition plan on hold pending the determination of a suit challenging the project.
Some auto spare parts dealers, who own shops at the market, had headed for court claiming that the planned demolition would disturb the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their tenancy at the market.
The trders, through their lawyer, Richard Nwankwo, sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the LGA and its agents from going ahead with the demolition and ejection plan, which they claimed was coming at a time when their rents had not lapsed.
At today’s proceedings, Nwankwo argued an ex parte application, urging the court to make an order for the parties to maintain the status quo pending when the issues in the main suit would be determined.
Nwanko told the court that since the first invasion of the market by agents of the defendant at about 4.30am on 30 June, 2015, the auto spare parts dealers had been living under the fear that the defendant would eject them.
The lawyer alleged that in spite of the intervention of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, who met with the parties on 1 July and ordered that peace should be maintained, the Executive Secretary of Mushin LGA, Mr. Jide Bello, had not relented in his threat to eject the marketers.
Convincing the court to grant the application, Nwankwo argued that the LGA would not suffer any loss if the court stopped it from taking further steps in its demolition and ejection plan until a decision was made by the court in the main suit.
After hearing the lawyer’s argument, the judge said she was convinced that it would serve the interest of justice for the parties to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the main suit and so ordered.
The judge subsequently adjourned till 4 August, 2015 to hear the main application.
The plaintiffs in the suit are Nnamdi Chukwuka, Franco Offai, Vitus Okoyeagu, Felix Okafor, Peter Benson and Richard Olisakwe.
Others are Godwin Onyeka, Emeka Ikeh, Romanus Ezimora and Darlington Ugochukwu.
In the affidavit filed in support of their application, they alleged that without a prior notice, agents of the Mushin Local Government Area had invaded the market, and with the help of “hoodlums and rented armed policemen” commenced demolition of their shops.
They claimed that the respondent, after the invasion, had continued to threaten them with ejection and demolition.
Chukwuka, who deposed to the affidavit, said the demolition and ejection threat by Bello was coming while the plaintiffs had subsisting rents.
The deponent, who accused Bello of hiding under “the guise of redeveloping the market”, said “the respondent also deployed some equipment in the market and removed roofs of the applicants’ shops.
“The hoodlums went on a looting spree, carting away some of our expensive goods, cash and other valuables.”