An Ogun State High Court in Ota has okayed a lawsuit laying claim to 13 acres out of a total of 508,996 acres of land belonging to the Registered Trustees of the World Mission Agency Inc, popularly known as Winners’ Chapel International, and its founder, Bishop David Oyedepo.
The court, in a June 16, 2020, ruling by Justice Olugboyega Ogunfowora, disagreed with Winners’ Chapel and Oyedepo that the suit was status barred.
The claimants in the suit – Monsuru Ogunseye, Alani Ogunseye, Muinatu Ogunseye and Rasheed Dada – are praying the court to hold that 13 acres out of Winners’ Chapel land belong to them by virtue of a July 13, 2017, judgment of the Court of Appeal.
They want the court to order the church to pay them N1.4bn “being the current market value of the 13 acres of land on the basis of a valuation report prepared by Lekan Akinwunmi & Co, a firm of estate surveyors and valuers.”
They also prayed that the court should compel the church to pay them N60m with interest, “being the assessed value of the occupation and use of their land by the defendants from 1998 to 2018 and thereafter at a pro-rated N3m per annum, among others.”
But the church and Oyedepo urged the court to dismiss the suit for being statute barred.
“Section 6(2) of the Limitation Law of Ogun State, 2006, expressly provides that actions of this nature seeking recovery and possession of land must be instituted within 12 years when the cause of action arose,” they argued.
However, the court upheld the argument of the claimants that the cause of action only arose in 2017 and not 1998 as contended by the church and thus it was not statute barred.
The judge ruled, “I agree with the claimants that the cause of action in this suit arose from July 13, 2017, when the Court of Appeal gave its judgment, and not from 1998 as posited by the defendants/applicants in their application and the supporting documents.
“This application, accordingly, lacks merit and is dismissed with costs assessed at N50,000.”
C) THE PUNCH