Alhaja Sarat Banire, the 90 year-old mother of National Legal Adviser of the All Progressive Congress, APC, Muiz Banire, SAN, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos seeking an order restraining the State Government or its agents from demolishing her house located at 24a, Remi Fani-Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja.
Officials of the Ministry of Town Planning and Urban Development had on Tuesday served a 48-hour demolition notice on the building.
Alhaja Banire, through her lawyer, Festus Keyamo, SAN, requested for stay of further action on her property.
In a letter dated Thursday, November 16, titled ‘Notice of pendency of court action in respect of plans to demolish property of Alhaja Sarat Banire: Request for stay of further action’ and written to the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, Keyamo advised the government to abide by the laws and not engage in acts that court jeorpadise the rule of law.
The letter read, “We are lead counsel to Alhaja Sarat Banire (‘our client’). Kindly find attached to this letter court processes in respect of Suit No. FHC/L/CS1736/2017: Alhaja Sarat Banire v. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister for Justice & 3 Ors.
“In summary, the above suit is a challenge to the expressed intention of the Lagos State Government to demolish property of our client at No.24A, Remi Fani-Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos State.
“We, therefore, kindly draw your attention to the pendency of the said action together with the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction to restrain the Lagos State Government from carrying out the planned demolition
“It is imperative to realise that the pendency of the above-mentioned suit necessitates that all parties must maintain the status quo and not to engage in any act that would foist a fait accompli (state of hopelessness) on the court”.
While urging the commissioner to advise the government against resorting to self-help on the matter, Keyamo cited legal precedences where courts frowned at executive rascality and impunity while cases were pending in courts.
Keyamo said, “This was emphasized by the Court of Appeal in the case of Ezegbu v. F.A.T.B (1991) 1 NWLR(Pt. 220) 669 at 725 para C where Tobi, JCA(as he then was) relying on the earlier decision of the Supreme Court in Governor of Lagos State v. Chief Ojukwu (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt. 18) 621 held as follows:
“That parties should not embark upon self-help when a matter is before a Court of law. Since the successful act of self-help will certainly render subsequent successful decision negatory, parties must refrain from it at all times.
“Therefore, once a party is aware of a pending court process and whether a court has given a specific injunctive order or not, parties are bound to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the court process.
“They should on no account resort to sefl-help. Whenever such a situation arises, the court must invoke its disciplinary jurisdiction to curb the excesses of a recacitrant party”.
Keyamo further quoted the Supreme Court in the case of FATB v. Ezegbu (1992) 9 NWLR (Pt. 264) 132 at page 147 paragraph B, when the apex Court held:
“As shown in Ojukwu’s case supra, the plaintiffs, having been put on notice of the defendant’s appeal and his motion to set aside the order of the extra-ordinary general meeting ordered to be held by the Federal High Court, they are duty bound to hold on until the hearing and disposal of the motion. Instead, they went ahead and held the meeting, taking far reaching decisions affecting the defendants…”
“In view of the above, we respectfully urge you, sir, as a senior member of the Bar and on the strength of the above-referred authorities, to prevail on the Lagos State Government, which you represent as the Chief Law Officer, to desist from any further interference with our client’s property at 24A, Remi Fani-Kayode Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos State pending the hearing and determination of the motion of interlocutory injunction in the above mentioned matter.
“The motion in question has already been served on your office, and a copy also accompanies this letter. This is the only way we can preserve the dignity, authority and sanctity of our courts. To do otherwise would be an invitation to chaos in our society”.