Homeowners Slam N100m Suit Against Developer


Henry Ojelu

Homeowners within the Pearl Garden Estate situated at Sangotedo Village in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State have dragged a property developer, Oyetubo Jokotade Estate Resource Limited, to court over alleged incessant harassment and imposition of arbitrary charges.

The claimants filed the class action before Justice Abisoye Bashua of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Epe.

The N100 million suit was instituted by Messrs Francis Adesuyi, Felix Obiakor, Martin Ajayi-Obe and Peter Afenotan on behalf of themselves and all interested homeowners within the Pearl Garden Estate.

Joined in the suit as second defendant is CMB Building Maintenance and Investment Company Limited, which is in charge of providing estate management services to the claimants.

At the hearing of the suit recently, the counsel to the defendants, Mr R.A. Aladesanmi, said they had filed an application asking the court to stay proceedings of the suit, pending the referral of the arbitration proceedings.

Aladesanmi argued that all purchases of the land entered into an arbitration agreement contained in their individual Sale and Management Agreement, adding that the appropriate place to resolve the dispute was through arbitration.

The claimants’ counsel, Mr Adeyinka Adeyemi, however objected to the application, arguing that some of the parties in the suit did not sign the arbitration clause.

Adeyemi further contended that the said agreement was entered between some of the claimants and the first respondent, adding that the second defendant (BCM) was not a party to the agreement.

He said it was ironic that the same defendants asking for arbitration had filed notices of appeal at the Court of Appeal against a previous order of the court which restrained them from restricting the claimants from the estate.

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“As at now, there is no appointed body to even conduct the arbitration. They have not taken any step to show that arbitration has commenced.

“The arbitration is nonexistent so the court cannot stay proceedings.

“It will be gross injustice for the matter to be referred to arbitration,” Adeyemi said.

Following their submissions, the judge adjourned the matter till 21 May for ruling.

In the suit, the claimants are asking the court for a declaration that the incessant harassment, restriction of movement and the imposition of arbitrary charges on them by the defendants as illegal and unlawful.

They also asked the court to declare that the refusal of the second defendant to allow them install borehole in their homes as illegal and unlawful.

The claimants also asked for : “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, jointly and severally, their agent, privies and cronies from further demanding or collecting reticulation charges in the sum of N650,000 or any other sums from the claimants contrary to the express terms of the Deeds of Assignment and the Sale and Management Agreement.

“A mandatory order directing the second respondent to refund to the claimants and other residents all monies collected forcefully as part or full payments of the unlawful imposition of the reticulation charges and the unilateral estate charges immediately to the respective claimants and other homeowners.”

They also asked for an order restraining the defendants from further harassing them and also the sum of N100 million as general damages for the barricade, destruction of property and unlawful denial of the claimants access to the estate on 13 March, 2013.

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