Judge’s absence stalls Braithwaite’s suit against Standard Chartered Bank



THE absence of Justice Doris Okuwobi of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, yesterday stalled hearing in the suit filed by elder statesman, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, against Standard Chartered Bank.

The judge was said to be indisposed and consequently, the matter was adjourned to December 17.
Braithwaite is challenging the erection of the bank’s 14-storey structure opposite his residence. He is insisting that the structure is illegal, arguing that the building permit was not genuine. He is, therefore, asking the court to order the demolition of the structure among other prayers.

The court had granted the claimant’s (Braithwaite) application, praying for an order for a physical measurement of the controversial structure, to acertain his averment that the structure violates the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) laws.

Counsel for the defendant, Adeniyi Adegbonmire (SAN), did not oppose the application. As a result, Okuwobi had ruled: “Leave be and is hereby granted the claimant/applicant for an order directing the president of the Nigeria Institute of Town Planners to enter the defendant’s commercial building of 14th floors comprising a five level car park at No. 142 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria, Island, Lagos, the subject matter of this suit in the presence of the parties herein and/or their counsel to undertake physical measurements of the setback and airspace of the said defendant’s building.”

The court also ordered that the town planners’ president to prepare a comprehensive report of his findings and measurement, which should be produced to the court as part of its record at the trial and must also be available for cross-examination.

In compliance to the ruling, town planning experts conducted the exercise recently. Witnessing the exercise, were representatives of both parties. Apart from the claimant, some of his other witnesses include Olumide Braithwaite, Ebun Braithwaite, Prof. Dayo Amokaye, Prof. Olaniyi Okedele and Olaitan Ajose-Adeogun.

The bank (defendant) was represented by its counsel, Adegbonmire, its head, legal and company secretary, Seye Kosoko, its expert witness, Gbenga Akinmoladun as well as few other staff.

The claimant, in his endorsements, is asking that the ‘illegal’structure, which is also damaging to him be pulled down. “A declaration that the construction by the defendant of a 14-floor building and a five level car park on the site situate lying and being at No. 142 Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island/ Plot 142 abutting Elais Close, Victoria Island, Lagos, is unlawful and damaging to the rights of the claimant.

A declaration that the said commercial building, now at floor No. 10 as at the date hereof consitutes and it is an illegal structure. A declaration that notwithstanding the defendant’s illegal development permit, the said commercial building constitutes a nuisance and an unlawful obliteration of the claimant’s easement to light, air and linkages – the rights of the claimant – for over 40 years.

An order that the illegal structure referred to be demolished and pulled down by the defendant at its cost. General damages in the sum of N10 billion for the nuisance caused and inflicted on the claimant by the defendant over a period of years,” Braithwaite prayed.

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