A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed June 15 for hearing in a suit filed by a 92-year-old widow, seeking return of her schools allegedly taken over by the Lagos State Government in 1976.
The applicant, Mrs Roseline Ololo in the suit filed through her lawyer, Chief Malcom Omirhobo, is praying the court to order the return of the schools, Metropolitan College and Isolo Secondary School.
Madam Ololo and her late husband, Chief Michael Ololo, had established the school through their company, Akaix West Africa Limited in 1955.
In 1976, via the Education (Private Secondary Institutions Special Provisions) Law, the Military Government of Lagos State took over the school along with 47 other Private Secondary Schools
However, in 2001, the administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu repealed the law and returned the said private schools to their owners, but her schools were not returned.
Ololo sued for herself and her company, Akaix West Africa Ltd, and is seeking the return of the school.
Joined as respondents in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation, Minister of Education, Lagos State Government, Lagos State Attorney General, and Lagos State Commissioner for Education.
Ololo is also seeking an order of the court to restrain the respondents from further infringing on her fundamental right, as well as an order returning her property to her.
When the case came up on Monday, counsel for the applicant informed the court that all respondents in the suit had been duly served with the processes. The applicant was however absent due to her age.
Mr Chituru Ololo represented the second applicant (Akaix West Ltd), while the court took judicial notice of the first applicant, who was absent due to her age.
Mrs Olufunke Osarenkhoe represented the fourth, fifth, and sixth respondents, while the first and second respondents were absent and not represented.
The Counsel to the applicant informed the court of its motion on notice seeking leave to amend his originating processes.
Justice Rabiu Shagari, therefore, adjourned the suit to June 15 for hearing of applicant’s processes.
Independent recalls that the tussle over the ownership of the school has been ongoing and that efforts for an amicable settlement have yielded result.
In September 2015, Madam Ololo with members of the civil society staged a peaceful protest to the Government House in Lagos over the continued none return of the school to her.
At the protest, it was agreed that parties to the feud should meet for another peace talk on how to find lasting solution to the crisis.
The peace talk however failed to produce result. At the meeting held at the Ministry of Education and attended by the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education, Olabisi Ariyo had requested Madam Ololo to substantiate her claims to the ownership of the Schools by providing a letter of administration or the copy of the Will of the former owner of the school in order to fast track the process of returning the schools.
In her suit at the Federal High Court, Ololo prayed the court for a declaration that the refusal by the Lagos State Government to return her schools was “unjust, unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful.”
In her affidavit, she averred that in 1952, she and her late husband both incorporated a company, Akaix Africa Ltd, in which name they established Metropolitan College.
The applicant explained that they were granted permission by the Federal Ministry of Education to establish Metropolitan College of Commerce.
She said that in 1966, before the Nigerian Civil war, they had purchased over 8.17 hectares of land at the Ire-akari Isolo area of Lagos for sitting of the school.
The applicant said that in 1976, the military government of Lagos State took over 48 Private Secondary Schools from their owners, including Metropolitan College.
“In the process, Isolo Secondary School was carved out of Metropolitan College on the same expanse of land hosting the college.
“In 2001, the then administration repealed the law and returned the said 48 private schools to their owners while Metropolitan College was curiously not returned to its owners,” she said
The applicant, therefore, prayed the court for a declaration that the refusal of the respondents to return her schools violated her constitutional right to acquire and own landed properties.
Ololo prayed the court for an order restraining the respondents from further infringing on her fundamental right, as well as an order returning her property to her.