The Court of Appeal, Akure Division, has set aside the judgment given against some Osun communities by the Federal High Court over a large expanse of land acquired from the community by the Nigerian Army in 1973.
Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, Osogbo, had, in a judgment delivered on February 17, 2015, struck out the suit filed by the communities to challenge the acquisition of the land.
The communities were represented by the traditional ruler of Olupona community, Chief Amodu Akanbi, and four others, who filed a suit against the Federal Government on the case.
The lower court held that the suit was statute-barred and therefore struck out the case but the land owners, who were dissatisfied filed an appeal against the judgment.
A copy of the judgment, with number CA/AK/80/2015, was made available to our correspondent in Osogbo on Tuesday.
In the judgment, the appeal court, in a unanimous judgment read by Justice Obande Ogbuinya, set aside the verdict of the lower court, directing the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to reassign the case to another judge to start the trial afresh.
The judgment read in part, “It follows that the action was filed within the tenet and spirit of the law. In effect, the lower court’s finding that the action was statute-barred, with due reverence to it, flies in face of the law.
“It will amount to judicial sacrilege to allow such a finding, which runs afoul of the law, to stand. In the end, I have no option than to resolve the conflated issues one and two in favour of the appellants and against the respondents.
“On the whole, having resolved the two fused issues in favour of the appellants, the destiny of the appeal is plain. It is imbued with merit. Consequently, I allow the appeal.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I set aside the decision of the lower court delivered on 17th February, 2015. In lieu if it, I remit the appellants’ case, suit number FHC/OS/CS/48/201, to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to another judge for its trial de novo.”
The traditional ruler of Olupona, Chief Amodu Akanbi, who made a copy of the appeal court’s judgment available to our correspondent, alleged that the then Federal Military Government in 1973, forcefully acquired 347 hectares of land on which the families were demanding N67bn compensation.