The High Court of Lagos State has set aside the sale of a property on 59, Olonade Street, Yaba, by the wife of the Alake of Egbaland, Olori Tokunbo Gbadebo.
Justice Justice A.M. Nicol-Clay agreed with submissions of the plaintiffs’ counsel, George M. Oguntade (SAN).
She held in the judgment delivered on Monday that the sale of the property was improper.
Three siblings – Fitzgerald Awogboro, Francis Awogboro and Mrs Irene Sirimis – had prayed the court to commit their aunts Gbadebo and Mrs Mary Philippa Ciroma to prison for alleged contempt of court ex facie curiae.
The applicants had, by their Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim dated January 21, 2019, prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants “from further acting, dealing, meddling or in any manner interfering in the administration and execution of the Estate of the Late Chief Joseph Folahan Odunjo.”
According to the claimants, one of the properties forming part of the Estate of the Late Chief Odunjo and which is the subject matter of the suit is the residential property at 59, Olonade Street
The applicants said despite the pendency of the court proceedings in which they are participating, the defendants, sometime in October 2020, “proceeded to sell the property for an alleged consideration of N75million”.
The plaintiffs told the court that the conduct of the defendants in selling the property despite the pending suit “was deliberate, reckless and calculated to interfere with the due administration of justice”.
Besides, they said the defendants’ conduct “is an affront to the integrity of the court and constitutes a contempt of court ex facie curiae”.
The defendants had denied the claims but the judge agreed with the plaintiffs.
In a supporting affidavit, Awogboro, who is one of the grandchildren of the Late Chief Odunjo, said his grandfather died testate in Lagos on April 19, 1980.
He said he received unverified information on November 22, 2020, that the defendants may have sold the property despite the pending suit.
He said Oguntade wrote the defendants’ counsel Mrs Titilola Akinlawon (SAN) on November 26, 2020 to ascertain the truthfulness or otherwise of the information relating to the sale.
“By a letter addressed to our Solicitor dated 1st December 2020, the defendants’ Counsel advised that the property at No. 59 Olonade Street, Yaba, Lagos State had been allegedly sold for N75,000,000.
“She enclosed three bank cheques in the sum of N3,571,428.58 in favour of each claimant, being their supposed share of the proceed of sale.
“The defendants are fully aware of the pendency of these proceedings having since filed a statement of defence in opposition to the claimants’ statement of claim.
“I have been informed by Mr Oguntade and I verily believe him that the conduct of defendants of purporting to sell and dispose of estate property despite the pendency of proceedings seeking to restrain such conduct is utterly contemptuous and constitutes a grave affront to the integrity and majesty of the court.
“It is imperative that the defendants are committed to prison as prescribed by law in consequence of their unlawful action.
“I further believe that unless the defendants are committed to prison for their contemptuous conduct, there is a real likelihood that they will continue to sell and dispose of estate properties pendent lite and persist in their interference with the due administration of justice in the matter and thereby bring the court into further contempt and ridicule.
“It is in the interest of justice that this Honourable Court acts decisively to arrest the brazen and flagrant disrespectful acts of the defendants in order to safeguard its sanctity and assure a just and fair trial of the suit,” the deponent said.
The applicants, in a motion on notice, also prayed for an order setting aside the purported sale of the property to unknown third parties.
They sought “a restorative order directing the defendants to return the sum of N75,000,000 collected by them to the alleged purchaser of the property”.
The defendants are the current executors of their late father, Chief Odunjo’s estate.
Dr Gbadebo is said to be the dominant executor who makes all the decisions and shares all monies.
The plaintiffs/ applicants’ late mother was a sister to the defendants.
In his Will, the late Chief Odunjo directed that the shares of his late daughter should go to her children, who are the plaintiffs.
The applicants contended that the executors failed to render proper accounts over the years, failed to vest certain properties in the plaintiffs as directed in the Will and have not properly administered the Estate.
But the defendants denied the allegations of impropriety.Follow us on social media