The Court of Appeal, Abuja will, on July 5, deliver judgment on an appeal challenging the judgement of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in respect of land ownership dispute within the Federal Capital Territory.
The appeal was filed by Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), River Park Estate (Jonah Capital Nigeria Ltd and House for Africa Nigeria Ltd), against the decision awarded to the plaintiffs; Blessed & Precious Children Academy Ltd, General Building Material Dealers Association Lugbe and Land Owners Association, Lugbe.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on March 14, 2011, Justice Peter Affen of the FCT High Court had entered judgment in favour of the plaintiffs against the FCDA, Jonah Capital Nigeria Ltd and House for Africa Nigeria Ltd as 1st to 3rd defendants for trespassing into the land of the plaintiffs.
In the judgment, Justice Affen had restrained the defendants whether acting by themselves or through their agents, servants, privies or otherwise howsoever from trespassing, entering upon or interfering with or otherwise disturbing the plaintiffs’ enjoyment and possession of all the parcel of land known as Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, FCT, save as provided by law.
The court also ordered that the grant or allocation made in favour of the 2nd defendant (Jonah Capital Nigeria Ltd) as expressed or contained in the Letter of Grant dated 28/5/2007, the Development Lease Agreement dated 28/5/2007 and the Deed of Addendum dated 15/9/2009, was invalid, null and void to the extent that it covers, concerns, touches upon or affects all that parcel of land known as Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, Lugbe.
The court ordered that the FCDA to issue certificates of occupancy to the plaintiffs upon payment of applicable processing fees; and act upon or process the applications made by or on behalf of the plaintiffs for building plan or other approvals and matters incidental thereto in recognition of the plaintiffs’ title to the plots granted to each of them in the parcel of land comprised in Lugbe 1 Extension Layout.
“The defendants jointly and severally shall pay to the plaintiffs the sum of 5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) as general damages for trespassing upon the lands comprised in Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, Lugbe validly allocated to the plaintiffs,” the judge said.
The court also assessed the cost of the suit at N20,000.00 in favour of the plaintiffs and against the defendants.
However, not satisfied with the judgement of Justice Affen, River Plate Estate through the 2nd and 3rd defendants filed a notice of appeal dated April 13, 2011.
On March 5, 2012, the defendants filed an application for stay of execution of Justice Affen’s judgment, which was dismissed by the same court.
Meanwhile, during the pendency of the suit, the plaintiffs had complained to the court and relevant agencies that the 2nd and 3rd defendants had continued to develop structures on the trespassed land despite a valid court order restraining them from doing so.
Some of the documentary evidence exhibited at the appellate court include a letter on Aug. 13, 2013 by Lugbe 1 Landowners’ Association, addressed to the Inspector General of Police; a letter by Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN to the FCT Minister on Sept. 21, 2015; etc.
The landowners alleged that nothing useful came out of the series of letters to the authorities over the continued threat of demolition of property under litigation within Lugbe 1 Extension as well as flagrant disobedience of a valid court order.(NAN)