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The speaker and the lawyer

10.07.2024 Featured Osun Speaker’s Aides ‘Assault’ Lawyer Enforcing Court Order

Published 10th Jul, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

When Yusuf Adesina, an Osun State-based lawyer, went to the Technical College area in Osogbo to execute a court judgement over his client’s piece of land last Friday, little did he know that an encounter with the aides of Adewale Egbedun, the speaker of the state house of assembly, would leave him with bruises.

Adesina told FIJ that his client had a court case over a land dispute with the state government. According to the lawyer, the administration of former Governor Rauf Aregbesola had allocated the land to private individuals.

“We went to court and got an injunction to stop them from working on the land. We waited until the administration of Adegboyega Oyetola, the immediate former governor. We approached the government to say that ‘this land belongs to our client’s family, and we are already fighting it in court,'” the lawyer said.

“The government told us that they wanted to do something on the land but in doing that, they would give our client part of the land while taking the rest, and the governor instructed his commissioner for land then. The state ministry of justice lawyers sat with us. We had a meeting. This was in 2022. We drafted the terms of the settlement and presented them to the court, saying that the parties had agreed to settle out of court, because the court had to document it as a consent judgement. The court did this in November 2022.”

READ ALSO: Lawyer Assaulted at Abuja Court

It was further revealed that when the present government of Governor Ademola Adeleke came on board, Adesina told them about the portion of the land that had been released to his client.

“We needed a letter of release from the government, but they refused to give us. This release was not asked based on our own power, but based on the judgement of the court. As a lawyer whose client’s interest was being abused, we went back to court for a warrant to execute the judgement of the court, and the court granted us.”

After obtaining the warrant to enforce the judgement of the court, the lawyer, along with the bailiff of the court, police officers and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officers, went to where the land was located to evict the occupants last Friday.

“The occupants were artisans, like car wash attendants, carpenters and petty traders who rented that place. We got there and told them to leave. In executing the judgement of the court, the police and the bailiff of the court sealed and padlocked some places. While some complied, some said they would not leave the place. They said they were waiting for the speaker to come to their rescue. Some said that they knew people in government who were powerful.

“Meanwhile, I didn’t put on my legal attire. I was in native, so nobody knew I was a lawyer. I was even interacting with the people who were affected and telling them to just comply with the order of the court. I was there because, in executing the court judgement, the lawyers should be there as well as sheriffs and police for protection. The speaker came with his convoy 30 minutes into the process.”

The lawyer said when Speaker Egbedun came, he asked to see the police officer who led the team there and questioned his actions.

“The speaker said he had spoken to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), who told him that he had directed the police to vacate that place. The policeman said they were about to leave but wanted to seal the place,” said the lawyer.

READ ALSO: ‘Falana Went Through This,’ Lagos Police Tell Lawyer Beaten Up in Their Office

WHY THE SPEAKER’S AIDES BEAT UP THE LAWYER

FIJ learned that, amid the speaker’s arrival and questioning, Adesina introduced himself as a lawyer and an interested party. Along the line, Egbedun accused the lawyer of insolence, and his aides assaulted him.

“I said, please, Mr Speaker, what you are doing is not allowed. He said, ‘You are a lawyer; you can’t just come here and send these people away overnight’. I told him we were not sending them away overnight. We had given them notice upon notice, but they did not comply. So we had to come to execute the judgement,” Adesina told FIJ.

“I was trying to gesticulate while talking to him, so I pointed towards him and said, ‘Mr speaker, this is the position of the law. You are not doing the right thing.’ Then he said, ‘You are pointing your finger at me; you are mad.’

“The moment he said that I was mad, what followed was a beating by his aides. They beat the hell out of me. In doing that, the people who were judgement debtors also took that advantage to take their pound of flesh on me. They beat me thoroughly.”

The speaker and the lawyer
The speaker and the lawyer

FIJ learned that one of the speaker’s security aides would then intervene by dragging the lawyer away from the mob.

“He took me to one of the vehicles in the convoy. As I got in, I asked if he was arresting me. He said no but to stop my attackers from mobbing me out there,” the lawyer said.

“As he was pulling me in, those people came again. They said they wanted to beat me and that I was abusing their boss. When the whole process was done in five to ten minutes, they [the convoy] left the place and took me along. When we got to Oke Fia, the government house, they dropped me on the road. After that, I went to a clinic to treat my eye because my left eye was affected, and it caused me pain from Friday to Sunday night.”

FIJ learned that the lawyer reported the incident to the Osogbo chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the chairman has since intervened.

“But the speaker denied it. He said he didn’t say I was mad nor did he see me at the scene. He said that he knew that some people were moving a guy and security took that man into the car and took him away. He said there was no altercation or conversation between me and himself. He said he was at the scene of the incident on that day in response to a distress call,” said the lawyer.

“The question that begs for an answer is, “Is the speaker a police officer to order the DCP to stop the execution of a judgement? Was a speaker’s presence needed then? They also said that we were parading a fake judgement. Even if I was doing that, was it the duty of a speaker to tell me that I was parading a fake judgement? He said it was the concerned citizens of the state who called him. Am I not a citizen of the state, too? Didn’t I deserve his protection as well?”

READ ALSO: 2 Months After, Lagos Police Yet to Prosecute Officers Who Assaulted Lawyer

When FIJ called Yemi Abiona, the Osogbo NBA chairman, he said the association had waded in on the matter and was not indisposed to settlement “as long as the speaker understands that he was actually wrong”.

“From what I read from the speaker’s spokesperson, he didn’t believe he was wrong. If he sticks by his position, we don’t have any choice but to take the matter before the court of law, which will be able to determine who was wrong or right. He said the speaker received a call and rushed to the place where a valid order from the court was being executed and asked the police to vacate the place. This means he deliberately interfered with the court order, which is a crime on its own,” Abiona said.

“The constitution mandates all public officers to see that the judgement of courts is executed and obeyed. So it’s unheard of for a leader, who is also a public officer and head of an arm of government, to frustrate the execution of the judgement of the court. Aside from the fact that our member was physically assaulted, the motto of the NBA is promoting the rule of law. We are promising that we will not leave any stone unturned.”

Meanwhile, the statement by Olamide Tiamiyu, the chief press secretary to the speaker, claimed that no court order was presented to the speaker nor did he engage with lawyers or any civilians at that scene.

“The speaker responded to a distress call from concerned citizens to prevent the destruction of people’s properties. There was no interaction between the speaker and the lawyer. Furthermore, the lawyer’s allegation of being attacked is false, as he was, in fact, rescued from the mob by a member of the speaker’s security team,” the statement partly reads.

Also noting that the speaker was aware of the claim of ownership on the land based on a judgement obtained two years ago, the spokesperson said the state ministry of land and the attorney general had filed a proper stay of execution against this judgement.

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Published 10th Jul, 2024

By Abimbola Abatta

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