Apapa port land tussle: Court adjourns Otudeko, Dangote case to March 7

Aliko DangoteAliko Dangote

Hearing, in a suit brought by Oba Otudeko against Alhaji Aliko Dangote over land dispute at the Lagos Port Complex (LPC), Apapa was on Thursday adjourned by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.

Justice Abang Okon adjourned till March 7 and 11 for the continuation of trial.

Otudeko, Chairman of the Honeywell Group, had filed the suit in 2006 before Justice Ramat Mohammed claiming the sum of $48 million against Alhaji Dangote and other defendants as damages for breach of contract, over 10.8 square meters of land within the Lagos Port Complex, known as the 5th Apapa Wharf Extension.But the matter was later transferred to Justice Abang Okon.

Also joined as respondents in the suit number FHC/L/CS/329/06 are the Nigerian Ports Authority, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Dangote Industries Limited and Greenview Development Nig. Ltd.

Otudeko’s counsel, Dr Joseph Nwobike, told the court that he needed time to study some of the exhibits to be tendered in the matter and to file a consequential amendment in view of order made by the court granting the amendment brought by the third, fourth and fifth defendants in the suit.

He made the oral application for adjournment, after a witness, Mr Olakunle Fashogbon, a property manager with Honeywell Group had been called to witness box.

Nwobike supported his application for adjournment with the Order 13 Rule 3 of the Federal High Court’s Civil Procedure Rules.

He told the court that he needed 14 days to reply to the defendants’ application.

However, the application for adjournment was objected by the counsel for Alhaji Dangote and his company, Professor Taiwo Oshipitan, SAN, and  Chief S. O. Sowemimo, counsel for the Nigerian Port Authority.

But in his ruling, Justice Abang conceded to Otudeko’s counsel’s application with regards to the federal high court’s rule, and adjourned the matter till March 7 and 11 for continuation of trial.

In his statement of claim, Otudeko averred that by an agreement, NPA leased the said land to him for five years at a consideration of N2.2million yearly.

He said that the land was for the purpose of setting up a bulk food handling facility adding that in keeping with the agreement, it paid the aforesaid amount and additional N290, 000 for survey.

According to the plaintiff, the BPE suddenly suspended his pre-existing rights, and granted the concession to Greenview Development  Ltd, belonging to Dangote.

He said that NPA and BPE later asked him to vacate the facility so as to ensure smooth transfer to the new operator.

He averred that Dangote, through his agents, harassed, threatened and ordered his officials to vacate the land. He said that by the forceful eviction, he lost the profit it would have made and was greatly injured in its business.

Otudeko wants the court to declare Honeywell Group as the exclusive legal occupier of the land and to restrain the defendants from treating it as stranger or trespasser on the land. It also wants the sum of $48 million as damages for additional expenses required to build the bulk food handling facility.

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