NECOM HOUSE: COURT STOPS WAAP FROM TAKING POSSESSION
As the controversy surrounding the sale of the 37-storey building known as NECOM House, Marina, Lagos, rages, the original title holders of the property, Nigerian Telecommunication Plc, [NITEL] has faulted claims by the West African Aluminum Products Plc [WAAP] that it had bought over the building.
Mr. Biola Bankole, one of the directors of WAAP had told Daily Sun exclusively that the house was purchased by his company in a transparent and lawful way.
Mr Bankole had told Daily Sun the company followed due process in the purchase of the property. According to him, the transaction between the liquidator and WAAP officials lasted two years, and wondered where NITEL management was between when the building was advertised for sale and its eventual purchase
However, in a swift reaction in Abuja, the telecommunication company accused WAAP of trespassing on its property, saying the purported sale of the building was invalid and illegal.
To buttress this point, counsel to NITEL, Chief Mamman Mike Osuman (SAN), displayed a copy of a ruling of a Lagos High Court in suit No LD/384/2011, wherein Justice O. Atinuke Ipaye had on April 11, 2011 restrained WAAP from trespassing on the building.
In granting the restraining order in the suit filed by NITEL against WAAP, Justice Atinuke Ipaye held, 'it is apparent from the affidavit evidence before the court that the applicant [NITEL] has a registered title to the subject property, is in possession of same and more importantly has sensitive telecommunication installations on the premises crucial to not only the telecommunications industry in Nigeria but to other countries on the continent.
'It is equally a well settled principle of law that once a matter has been submitted to adjudication by the court the parties are no longer at liberty to continue to take steps on the subject (property) which may end up frustrating the adjudicative powers of the court or foist a fait accompli on the court.
'Finally, it is manifest that this, being a dispute relating to title and award of damage in lieu of an order of injunction is rather inappropriate in the circumstances. For this and other reasons, the court is persuaded that the application is meritorious as more harm will occur to the claimant/applicant if it turns out at the end of the day that it is entitled to the judgment of the court. This court is persuaded that the claimant/applicant has placed sufficiently cogent and compelling facts before the court to anchor the exercise of discretion in its favour