The Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikorodu has resolved a land dispute between a couple and the two founders of God’s Glory Evangelical Mission (Palace of Breakthrough) over ownership of land used by the church in Ikorodu, Lagos.
Justice Adeniyi Pokanu held that the land belonged to the couple, Mr. James Adebayo Adenuga and Mrs. Omobolanle Esther Adenuga, who are claimants in suit IKD/10257LMW/2021.
The judge dismissed the counterclaim of the 1st and 2nd defendants – Pastor Omotayo Stephen Omole and Mrs. Modupe Elizabeth Omole – that the couple freely transferred ownership of the land to the church.
According to court documents, the Omoles – husband and wife – previously operated God’s Glory Evangelical Mission at Uzoro Street, Laketu Lucky-Fibre Parafa, Ikorodu.
But when the Adenugas – 1st and 2nd claimants – joined the church between 2015 and 2016, the church began holding services on the Adenugas’ premises at 112, Zone C, Damolapa Estate, Lucky Fibre Parafa, Ikorodu.
The one-and-a-half plot at 112, Zone C, Damolapa Estate was owned by the Adenugas. The Omoles – 1st and 2d Defendants – also resided on the same premises.
The Omoles then claimed that the claimants on February 17, 2017, subsequently freely transferred ownership of part of the property to the church, adding that no fee was demanded or paid.
But, in a judgment on June 1, 2023, the court found that there was no evidence for the Omoles’ claim.
It agreed with the arguments of the Adenugas, as canvassed by their counsel A.T. Naiyeju, that there was no valid transfer of the property to the church.
The judge slammed the Omoles’ lawyer, O.A. Ajala, for not advising his clients that they had no case.
Justice Pokanu said: “I must observe that the role played by the Defendants’ Counsel, Mr. A.O. Ajala in the entire case scenario. He prepared and signed the Deed of Transfer dated 2nd February 2017 which itself is fraught with errors. Even though this Court cannot establish that he was present at the execution of the Deed, I strongly believe that he should have advised the Defendants as to the hopelessness of their case.
“Rule 14(2)(e) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 imposes a duty of Counsel in relation with clients to wit: “where he considers the client’s claim or defence to be hopeless, inform him accordingly”.
“Counsel, O.A. Ajala Esq. did not only shirk in this duty but went ahead to harass the Claimants with his letter dated 9th October 2020. I find that it is fitting and proper to award a fine against Defendants’ Counsel in favour of the Claimants for such conduct which has put the Claimants through needless stress and trauma.
“A lawyer is expected to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the course of justice, and maintain a high standard of professional conduct at all times.”
Granting the Claimants’ prayers, Justice Pokanu held: “Arising from my findings and holding with respect to the Claimants’ claim”. and the Counterclaim of the Defendants/Counterclaimants, I make the following orders:
“It is declared that the Deed of Transfer dated 2nd February 2017 is void and of no effect in law.
“The sum of N2million as general and aggravated damages is hereby awarded against the Defendants in favour of the Claimants;
“Post Judgment interest at the rate of 10 per cent on the judgment sum until the judgment sum is paid is hereby awarded.
“An Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the Defendants, privies and any of their agents from the entire property of the Claimants is awarded.
“The Defendant’s Counterclaim dated 6th August 2021 fails in its entirety and is hereby dismissed accordingly
“Cost of this action in the sum of N300,000.00 is awarded in favour of Claimants against the Defendants.
“Fine of N500,000 is awarded against the Defendants’ Counsel O.A. Ajala Esq. in favour of the Claimants.
“This is the judgment of this court.”