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Ondo Farmers-Govt Face off: Court Strikes Out Attorney-General’s Processes

The case filed by Oluwa Forest farmers in Ondo State against the state government and SAO Agro-Allied Services LTD over their forceful eviction on Monday at High Court, Ore, experienced a pivotal development as the processes filed by the state Attorney-General were struck out.

There had been heated arguments in the court when Dr. Olajide Ajana SAN, who is the attorney to SAO Agro-Allied Services Ltd, told the court that he was appearing for the Ondo State Government and its agencies and subsequently applied to withdraw multiple processes filed by the office of the Attorney-General of Ondo State after the counsel to the farmers, Tope Temokun Esq. had alleged abuse of court process.

Temokun’s contention on the matter emerged when Dr. Ajana SAN applied to withdraw all processes previously filed by the office of the Attorney-General, including a Memorandum of Appearance, Statement of Defence and counter-affidavits.

Objecting to the application, Temokun Esq. argued that Dr. Ajana’s proposed action could not be granted in absence of express authority from the Attorney-General.

He based his contention on grounds that prior conflicting actions between Dr. Ajana’s initial claim that he was representing the Ondo State Government under ostensible authority of the Attorney-General and subsequent filing of processes by another counsel from the Attorney-General’s office are contradictory and that it showed lack of authority.

The attorney to the claimants further argued that Memorandum of Appearance filed by the Attorney-General’s office rests on the presumption of regularity that could not be simply rebutted by oral claims of Dr. Ajana.

He argued that under section 168 (1) of the Evidence Act, the presumption of regularity could only be countered with solid evidence, like a signed fiat, or through the withdrawal of the Attorney-General’s filed processes by an official from the Attorney-General’s office.

After deliberation, the court, therefore, ruled that the Attorney-General’s personal appearance was not necessary to authorize the representation of the Ondo State Government by the counsel to SAO Agro-Allied Services Ltd, Dr. Ajana SAN.

Consequently, the application to withdraw the defence filed by the Attorney General’s office was granted, and the processes filed by the Attorney General’s office were struck out.

Subsequent to the ruling, with the preliminary objection at hand, Dr. Ajana SAN requested time to review the further affidavit submitted by the claimants’ counsel against his counter-affidavit.

The presiding judge, Justice Adegoroye, therefore agreed and adjourned the hearing to May 28, 2024.

Fielding questions from newsmen after the hearing, the counsel to the farmers-applicants, Tope Temokun Esq. said:”It is important to us as counsel to the farmers and the farmers themselves because Dr Ajana is the counsel appearing for SAO. But he always said he was appearing for the Ondo State government till the Ministry of Justice represented by lawyer from the office of Attorney-General filed separate processes for the Ondo State government thereby vindicating us on our position.

“When the matter came up today, he said he had the authority of the Attorney-General to withdraw all the processes filed by the Attorney-General and we objected to this procedure, in the absence of evidence of authority. But court granted the withdrawal of the processes and struck them out.”

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