A seeming landmark judgement was delivered at the Ikoyi High Court when Honorable Justice Oweibo ruled that estate residents cannot be compelled to pay estate resident dues.
The ruling was delivered on the 25th of September in the light of a suit filed by Megawatts Nigeria through its legal counsel Mr Kayode Adeniji of Lawracles LP against the Registered Trustees of Gbagada Phase II Residents’ Association and others as respondents. According to NewsmakersLive.org,
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“facts deposed to in court processes show that Gbagada Phase II Residents Association had been sending notices: requesting the payment of estate dues from 2017 to 2020 for sums ranging from N300,000 to N200,000 annually, to Megawatts Nigeria Limited”.
According to the defendant, Megawatts Nig. Ltd is bound to pay dues of whatever kind that is required of other estate residents as it is viewed as a resident. Megawatts position, however, is that it took care of its own utilities in the way of waste management and security that the estate claims to be providing with the dues it demands. The company even complained its trucks have been prevented from entering the estate due to the impasse between the company and the estate resident’s association.
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The primary bone of contention before the court was if ”a person, resident in an estate, can be compelled and coerced into membership of a resident association”. The court has now ruled in favour of the company awarding cost against Gbagada Phase II Residents’ Association. In delivering the judgement, the court made actual reference to Section 40 of the 1999 constitution which reads thus:
“Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests…”
The significance here is what should pick your interest especially if you are a property owner (as in owner-occupier) resident in an estate arrangement in Nigeria and especially Lagos. The judicial precedent set here would serve as backing for future lawsuits and even beyond that it would prove useful in the event of legislation to that effect. For a long time, the issue has been a vexing one between new residents and estate associations who impose dues. Asides from the fact that it has only served to increase service charges in especially In the properties are made for rent, there have been many instances of misappropriation concerning estate dues and even multiple charges.
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