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Obey Court Judgement or Face Contempt Proceedings, Surveyors Tell Lagos


The Surveyor-General of Lagos State may soon face contempt proceedings over failure of the state government to implement judgement of the Federal High Court, which nullified Section 5 of the state Survey Practice Law, and granted surveyors to practice the profession in any part of the state without any hindrance.


The surveyors in a letter written by their lawyer, Osaretin Ogbebor, stated that a subsisting order of the court must be obeyed by all, no matter how lowly or highly placed in the society.


The letter cited alleged refusal by the officials of the Surveyor-General to accept for lodgment the record copy with Plan No: TOC/0699/06/2022/LA, dated August 10, 2022, prepared by Surveyor Olatunde M. Olarinre, which was rejected, and marked as: ‘Old Yaba Acquisition’.


Justice Daniel Osiagor had on August 2, 2022, while delivering judgment in the suit marked: FHC/L/CS/1789/2020, nullified Section 5 of the Survey Law of Lagos State, which requires surveyors to obtain written consent of the Surveyor-General of Lagos State before carrying out survey on any state land or land acquired by the Lagos State Government.


The suit was filed by seven Surveyors, Adaranijo Ibikunle Ganiyu Rafiu, Mrs. Aluko Kikelomo Sikirat, Adedeji Olarewaju, Adams Benjamin Olugbenga, Mekuleyi Oluseyi Samuel, Aliu Samuel, and Fashina Adedapo, against the Surveyor-General of Lagos State and 10 others,


Others listed as defendants are: Surveyors Council of Nigeria; Olatunbosun David, Adesina Adeleke, Akomolafe A.O, Odetunmobi O. Olufemi, Mrs. Akintaro, Michael Adebisi Alonge, Egbeyemi Lateef, the Attorney General of Lagos State, and the Attorney General of the Federation respectively.


The court also held that the Surveyor General of Lagos State lacks the power to deny any registered surveyor consent to conduct survey on any parcel of land in Lagos State (whether owned by the Lagos State Government, corporate bodies or private individuals) and that he also lacks the power to reject copies of survey plans submitted by the plaintiffs and every other registered surveyor in Nigeria) for lodgment.


Reacting to the alleged Surveyor-General’s refusal to accept for lodgment the record copy with Plan No: TOC/0699/06/2022/LA, dated August 10, 2022, the aggrieved surveyors in their letter titled: “The act of disobedience to the judgement of the Federal High Court, Lagos, in Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1789/2020’, warned the state government of the consequences of disobeying the court.


The letter addressed to the Lagos State Surveyor-General read: “The attention of our clients has been drawn to the refusal by your good self and officers in your office to comply with the judgement of the Federal High Court, Lagos, in the above suit dated August 2, 2022.


“One of such act of non-compliance with the judgement of the court is the refusal by officers in your office to accept for lodgment the record copy with Plan No: TOC/0699/06/2022/LA, dated August 10, 2022, which was prepared by Olatunde M. Olarinre. The said record copy was rejected for lodgment and marked ‘OLD YABA ACQUISITION’, despite the orders of the court to the contrary. A copy of the letter of submission of the record copy and pillar returns, as well as the record copy itself as marked and rejected is hereby annexed as an evidence of our clients’ assertion.


“To this end, we have the instructions of our clients to bring to your notice the implications of disobeying court orders in Nigeria.”


Directing the Surveyor-General’s attention to the consequence of disobeying court order, the letter cited the case of Rt. Hon. Michael Balonwu and Ors -V- Governor of Anambra State and Ors (2007) 5 NWLR {Pt. 1028} Page 488 at 564 565 paragraphs B G per DENTON-WEST JCA, and held that: “An order of court whether valid or not must be obeyed until it is set aside. An order of the court must be obeyed as long as it is subsisting by all no matter how lowly or lightly placed in the society. An act of disobedience towards an order of court can render any further act by those who have acted disobediently to sanctions from other courts because no court would want its orders flouted. This is what the rule of law is all about; hence, the courts have always stressed the need for obedience of court orders.”


He also cited the case of Oshiomhole and Anor vs FGN and Anor (2004) LPELR5188 (CA), which states that: “But in a democratic polity, where principles of rule of law are firmly entrenched in the system, it will be working in an anticlockwise direction, an affront and indeed an onslaught on democracy if a person or body of persons however highly placed, shall decide to brush aside, downgrade and ridicule a court’s order. The court on the other hand is always jealous of its decisions and will not allow anyone to ridicule it. A court of law is never a toothless bulldog, it can bark, bite, brake and may, as circumstance may warrant, eat up the bones.”

Culled from THISDAY

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