Ondo State Government officials have been ordered to appear before an Akure High Court in the suit filed by traders under the aegis of the Association of Business Owners at the Ondo State Trade Fair Complex, Alagbaka, Akure, the planned demolition of their offices and shops on the premises.
In a Writ of Summons issued dated April 5, 2022, the court ordered the defendants in the suit — Governor of Ondo State, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperative Services – to within seven days cause appearance to be entered in the case.
“You are hereby commanded that within seven days after the service of the writ on you, inclusive of the day of such service, you do cause an appearance to be entered for you in an action at the suit of the plaintiffs and take notice that in default of your so doing the plaintiffs may proceed therein and judgment may be given in your absence,’’ the writ signed by John O. Obasemo, a copy of which was given to Persecondnews, directed.
The state government had earlier served the concerned traders a notice to quit after which the demolition would take place this week.
Victory Crystal Investment Ltd and LLC Reuben & Associates as Claimants/Applicants had instituted the action for themselves and on behalf other occupants of Trade Fair Complex against the defendants.
In an Affidavit of Urgency filed by Chief Oladimeji Abitogun of LLC Reuben & Associates, Trade Fair Complex, he had stated as follows:
That I am the Chief Executive Officer of the 2nd Claimant/Applicant in this action instituted for the occupants of the facilities at the Trade Fair Complex, Igbatoro, Akure, Ondo State by virtue of which I am conversant with the facts of this case.
That I have the permission of the other Claimant/Applicant to depose to this affidavit.
We have been in occupation of the facilities at the Trade Fair Complex for upward of about 15 years.
The other Claimant/Applicant and I as well as other occupants of the Trade Fair Complex came into the Complex after it was abandoned for several years.
That as at the time we took possession of the facilities, the Trade Fair Complex, situated at lgbatoro Road, Ondo State was in serious state of disrepair as it was bushy and completely abandoned.
Persecondnews.com recalls that the Chairman of the association, Prince Adelokiki Orimisan, had on Thursday admitted that a notice to quit the complex was served on their members on March 24, 2022, but said the planned action of the government was illegal as their lease agreement had not expired.
Orimisan said the quit notice was served in order to pave the way for the demolition of the complex by April 7, 2022, to be carried out by the state government.
“We are all legal occupants of the said property by entering into a proper and documented lease agreement with the state government, and we are still having our lease agreement running for years.
“While some of our members just renewed their tenancy agreement, some still have like a year or two running before the expiration of their tenancy, which is subject to renewal as the case may be.
“It is pertinent to state without equivocation that the Ondo State Government, led by Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, has not followed due process of the law in this case.
“While we have briefed our lawyers to initiate legal proceedings against the government on the proposed illegal demolition, we are duty-bound as citizens of this state to let the people know the potential evil the demolition of the complex portends.
“Essentially, the complex was to allow business owners, innovators, inventors and budding entrepreneurs to have a common platform where they can showcase their business activities and ventures to attract buyers or even joint partners or venture capitalists who can invest in their businesses for expansion.
“Over the years, the place had been abandoned by successive administrations due to their own acutely myopic economic management capacity,’’ he said.
While appealing to the government to rescind its decision, the chairman said: “We ask that, in the alternative, the government should give us a year’s notice to quit as required by one of the provisions of our tenancy agreement.
“We ask that if the government can no longer wait for the expiration of all the terms and agreements in our lease document, the government should relocate all legitimate business owners within the complex to another place to be provided by the government with all expenses of the relocation borne by the government.”