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Court orders FG, firm to pay N250m for seizing family’s mineral-laden

A Federal High Court in Osogbo has ordered the Minister of Mines and Steel Development and a firm, Segilola Resources Operating Limited, to pay the Pa Olulade Ejisanmi family of Odo Ijesha Village in Atakunmosa East Local Government Area of Osun State the sum of N250m for seizing a parcel of land for the purpose of mining mineral resources.

The judgment was pursuant to an originating motion filed by Mrs. Titilayo Ajayi and Mr. Femi Adeoye on behalf of the Ejisanmi family.

Gold had been discovered on the land and the government subsequently took control over the property and issued a mining lease to Segilola Resources Operating Limited without paying compensation to the Ejisanmi family.

After taking control of the land, an offer of N150, 000 or N100 per acre was made to the family in line with the Nigerian Mining and Mineral Act which mandates that compensation be made to land owners.

The family subsequently hired human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) to pursue the cause of justice.

In the suit marked FHC/OS/CS/45/2022, the family presented six issues for determination including whether by virtue of Section 100 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, the defendants’ entry on the plaintiff’s land without their consent is unlawful.

The plaintiffs also asked the court to determine if by virtue of Section 44(4) of the 1999 Constitution, the refusal of the ministry and the mining company to allow the family to determine the compensation payable to them for taking over the possession of their vast land is illegal, null and void.

They subsequently sought eight declarations including an order awarding the sum of N1bn as compensation for the Segilola Resources Operating Limited’s breach of the family’s rights under Section 43 of the constitution as well as a separate order awarding the sum of N500m as damages.

But in its response, Segilola Resources Operating Limited – the second defendant – argued that it was validly issued a mining lease which permitted it to carry out mining activities on the land in question. The firm added that awarding N1bn against it would be in contravention of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act.

In his judgment, Justice N. Ayo-Emmanuel noted that Section 100 and Section 102 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act state that when an application is made for mineral title in respect of an area, a notice of application must be given to the owner of the land in a prescribed manner and consent must be obtained before a licence is given.

“My findings show that the second defendant (Segilola Resources Operating Limited) actually entered the plaintiff’s land for mining purposes and thereafter kick-started discussions with the plaintiff on the issue of compensation.

“The affidavit evidence before the court has not disclosed any compensation paid to the plaintiff in particular even though others were said to have been paid,” said Justice Ayo-Emmanuel.

The judge held that there was nothing before the court to show that the plaintiffs were invited or allowed to make an input as to their proprietary interest or quantum of compensation in respect of the land thus amounting to a violation of Section 44(1)(a)(b) of the 1999 constitution.

The judge subsequently held that since the firm had obtained a mining licence that would expire on September 20, 2040, and will continue to carry out mineral exploration having not followed due process, Segilola Resources Operating Limited was acting illegally.

He subsequently awarded the sum of N200m as compensation for the compulsory acquisition of the property and a separate N50m as exemplary damage against the ministry and the firm.

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