Family battles AMCON, Ecobank over mortgaged property
Legal battle over the soul of a landed property situate at 5, Oduduwa Street, GRA Ikeja, Lagos is raging between administrators of the estate of Late Samuel Iyiola Omotoso, and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ecobank, and Registrar of Titles, Lagos State.
The bone of contention in the suit filed at Ikeja division of Lagos High Court by the administrators of the Estate of late Samuel Iyiola Omotoso, is the propriety of a Mortgage Deed dated August 24, 2001 and registered as No 14 on page 14 in volume 2044 at the Lagos State Land registry in respect of the property upon which a credit facility of N155 million was extended to JCN Limited by Ecobank.
The suit, which emanated through Originating Summons taken by Rotimi Aladesanmi on behalf of the administrators, is predicated on three issues for determination.
The claimants, namely; Mrs. Oluwafunmilayo Nwafor, Mrs. Omowumni Olugunja, Mr. Elijah Omotoso and Mr. Emmanuel Omotoso Omotoso want the court to determine whether by virtue of the deed of conveyance registered as No.32 on page 32 in volume 1605 at the Lagos State Lands Registry, Alausa, Ikeja between Adeleke Adedoyin and Samuel Iyiola Omotosho, as well as the Letters of Administration issued in respect of the Estate of Late Samuel Iyiola Omotoso is vested in the claimants.
They also want a determination of whether by virtue of the letters of administration issued by the Lagos State High Court in respect of the Estate of Late Samuel Iyiola Omotoso and the handwriting analysis of the signature of the deceased on the mortgage deed’s a forgery and whether the said Samuel Iyiola Omotoso was not and could not have been party to the said mortgage deed at all.
The claimants further want the court to determine whether the fact that JNC Limited , which is the borrower on the mortgage deed is a legal nonentity and that there was no loan advanced at all before the demise of Samuel Iyiola Omotoso, who was stated to be the guarantor.
Consequently, they are seeking a declaration that the tripartite mortgage deed between Ecobank Nigeria Plc, JNC Limited and Samuel Iyiola Omotoso, is not valid, null and of no effect whatsoever.
They also want an order setting aside the tripartite mortgage in respect of the property as well as an order directing the Registrar of Titles Lagos State ( second respondent) to forthwith remove from the register the mortgage deed registered as N0 14 on page 14 in volume 2044 at the Lagos State Land Registry, Alausa, Ikeja.
The summon is supported by 17 paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Akpobome Deniran, a legal practitioner and a written address in support of the motion and exhibits , which included a forensic report examination and comparison of signatures from special fraud unit of the Nigeria Police , Ikoyi, Lagos.
Similarly, Omotoso family initiated another suit against AMCON , the Inspector General of Police and one Abubakar Balteh at the Federal High Court, Lagos seeking for the enforcement of their fundamental rights to property.
In their statement of claims, they sought a special damages of N43 million being the cost of restoring the damages building on the parcel of land and N150million as exemplary damages jointly and severally against the defendants for forcible and unlawful seizure and demolition of their property situate at N05 Oduduwa Street, Ikeja, Lagos
But in response to the suit at Lagos High Court, the respondents through a preliminary objection urged the court to strike out the suit for being fundamentally flawed having been commenced through an originating summons instead of writs of summon.
The respondents also in their defence among other things stated that the suit lack merit as they were properly in possession of the property by the reason of the tripartite mortgage deed.
Also in their reply, the respondents through their lawyers averred that they did not forcibly take possession of the property on November 10, 2016 as deposed by the applicants but that AMCON took possession of the property on March 31, 2016 pursuant to order of court.
They further averred that the deed of legal mortgage entitles AMCON to sell assign, retain possession and occupy the land, the subject matter of the mortgage.
According to them, Section 44 of the constitution does not apply to land taken possession of based on a mortgage.They also averred that there is a loan purchase agreement between AMCON and Ecobank Plc in respect of JNC Limited account and many other accounts.
They therefore among other things asked the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction. But the trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba at the last adjourned date, returned the file to the Chief Judge of the Federal high Court, for reassignment.