From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The family of late Head of State General Sani Abacha have cried out over the alleged action of Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai in allowing the clearing the site of the demolished Durbar Hotel, despite a court order restraining him and government agencies from doing so.
When contacted on phone to react to the allegation that Governor El-Rufai has disobeyed the court order, the state’s Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP), Mr Bayero Dari said: ‘Give me one hour, I will call back.’
Mr Dari did not call back at the expiration of the one hour, even up to the time of filing this report.
Governor El-Rufai is alleged to have concluded plans to turn the land the demolished hotel occupied into a public garden and relaxation spot, despite a court not yet deciding on the matter.
Thd Abacha family noted that Governor El-Rufai has allowed equipment into the land for clearing the site, which has begun in earnest in the past week.
Speaking through family lawyer Dr Reuben Atabo, the Abacha family said they were surprised to see a Caterpillar vehicle clearing the site since the beginning of May, despite the Kaduna High Court fixing May 30 to rule on the injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with the land.
According to Mr Joshua Rimven, who represented Dr Atabo at a press briefing in Kaduna: ‘We are suspecting the Government of Kaduna State to have taken Caterpillar to the site to clear the place because we have a case between the demolished Durbar Hotel and the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, as the first defendant.
‘Other defendants are the Attorney General of the State and Commissioner of Justice, Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA) as well as the Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS).
‘There is already an injunction restraining them from interfering or coming into this land or do any thing on the land after demolishing the place last time.
‘There are two matters in the case; there is one at the Supreme Court and also at the High Court before Justice Hannatu Balogun,which is about the demolition of the hotel.
‘The case at the Supreme Court is about the Durbar Hotel itself before it was demolished; who owns it between the Federal Government and the Abacha family, which we won at the Appeal Court.
‘There is a court order from the High Court that none of the parties should interfere with the land. But we are surprised that we saw people on ground taking measurements and clearing the land.
‘When we asked them they said it was the Kaduna State Commissioner for Works that sent them to do so.
‘To us, this is against the court order that none of the parties should interfere with the land or do anything on the land.
‘But they decided to take the law into their hands. This is very unfortunate. It is the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, that should be held responsible for this violation of the law.
‘They removed all the Caveat Emptor notice placed on the land without the permission of legal process.
‘They have disobeyed the court order, it is contempt of court. The police are there to enforce law and order. We will petition the Commissioner of Police to enforce the court order.’
When our correspondent visited the Durbar Hotel site soon after the press briefing, two Caterpillar vehicles as well as some workers in reflective jackets were seen clearing the land.