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99 years after legal tussle, Church recovers property in Lagos

The possession of a large expanse of land leased to a Lebanese-owned firm G Ambrosini & Co has been recovered by the Cathedral Church of St Jude Ebute Meta in the Diocese of Lagos Mainland Thursday after 99 years and 10 months of legal tussle.

WITHIN NIGERIA learnt that the property known as Ambrosini Properties on No. 102 Borno Way, Ebute-Meta, Lagos was returned to the church officials by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Recall that AMCON had taken possession of the land sequel to a Federal High Court order, after buying a debt from the United Bank for Africa (UBA) as part of its debts recovery mandate.

Ambrosini, which signed the lease with the church on October 21, 1920 for a period of 99 years, transferred the lease to G. Cappa, on April 27, 1953, which in turn staked it as a guarantee for the UBA loan.

The church’s solicitor Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, said the church drew the corporation’s attention to its title to the land and the expiration of the lease.

The church, he noted, had expected a difficult recovery process, but the reverse was the case.

Oyetibo said: “Our expectation was that we were going to have a long drawn battle with them (AMCON), but the way God works – because you are doing His work and He took over the battle – AMCON wrote, acknowledging that the church owns the reversionary interest…”

The handover ceremony, he explained, was the consequence of AMCON’s acknowledgement of the church’s freehold title.

The Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos Mainland, Rt Rev Akinpelu Johnson, thanked Mr. Oyetibo; the Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese, Justice Bukola Adebiyi and former AMCON Chairman Dr Muiz Banire for making the recovery possible.

He challenged the Cathedral Church of St Jude to find a way to utilise the land, “such that this great property will help the work of God that He has committed to our hands to prosper…”

For the Dean of the Cathedral Church of St Jude, Venerable Olufeyisanjo Ojelabi, it was a historic “day of joy”.

He noted that recovering the property cost the church “No Kobo” and thanked those who made that possible, in particular, the Deputy Chancellor Justice Adebiyi.

He pledged that the Ambrosini Recovery Committee would recommend the best way to put the property to use.”

AMCON Credit Officer Ndom Ita, who signed the hand over documents on behalf of the corporation, said all the issues around the property had been resolved.

“The official hand over of this place to the church means that there is no encumbrance concerning the property, everything has been resolved.”

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