A Benin High has asked the Alhaji Aliru Momoh Ikelebe III, the Otaru of Auchi to vacate the premises he currently occupies as his palace in the last two decades as his an illegal occupant.
The property according to the court, which also ordered the monarch to pay N10million as damages, actually belongs to its rightful owner, Orbit Building society Limited, which sued the Otaru claiming ownership.
Justice Esohe Ikponmwen who granted the claimant the right to take full possession of the property as the rightful owner, stressed that the company acquired the said property in 1993, adding that since the second defendant has no tie with the property he should vacate the property within 31 days.
The court who awarded N5 million as general damages and N5 million as exemplary damages, stressed that the damages would have been bigger owing to the number of years the second respondent occupied the property but was awarded in line with the demand of the claimant.
Orbit Building Society had in 1997 filed a suit against the Otaru of Auchi asking that he quit the property which is located at old Government Reservation Area, Auchi Estako West LGA, Auchi.
It was gathered that the property, which was then known as Bendel Hotel was bought by the claimant from Edo State government in 1993 with an agreement to continue to keep the hotel running and provide employment opportunity for the community. But the Otaru illegally took it over and built his palace on it.
For Ikoghode Julius, the Managing director Orbit Building Society Limited, it was a dream come true, pointing out he had on several occasions confronted the royal father on his decision to move his Palace into the property in 1993, adding that after waiting for five years, he decided to seek redress in the court.
According to him, Edo State government told me that “I should use whatever means available to recover my property and I am happy that the court has given me my property back after twenty two years.”