Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A grade one Area Court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, on Monday stopped two construction companies, Messrs Gilmor Engineering Nigeria Limited and China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGC Nigeria Limited), including unknown persons, from encroaching or trespassing on some plots of land belonging to a former Senator for Edo North Senatorial district, Senator Yisa Braimoh.
In addition, the court has ordered police authorities to arrest any person or construction company found encroaching or trespassing on the said landed properties.
The judge, Abubakar Muhammed, who issued the restraining order on September 14 in Lugbe, further ordered that any person found trespassing into the plots of land nos; 897, 898 and 899 situated at Cadastral Zone B01, Gudu district of the FCT should be arrested by the police.
The decision of the Judge was a sequel to an ex parte motion filed and moved by counsel to the former lawmaker, E Jatto, pursuant to section 6(6) of the 1999 constitution and under the inherent powers of the court.
Upon listening to the submissions of counsel to the plaintiff/ applicant, the judge equally restrained a construction company, China Geo-Engineering Corporation (CGC Nig Limited), whether by itself, it’s servants, privies, agents or any other persons howsoever described from trespassing/interfering with, encroaching or dealing in any manner whatsoever with the said landed properties, pending the determination of the motion on notice.
Court documents revealed that the said plots were purchased by Senator Braimoh some years ago in the name of his company, Hotel Broadway Limited, while plot 898 was dully allocated to him with Statutory rights of Occupancy (R&O) by the then Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed and dated December 14, 2010.
Specifically, while two of the plots – nos. 897 and 899 – were procured by the plaintiff in 2008 at over N240m, the third contiguous plot no: 898 was allocated to him by the then Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Muhammad.
All the three plots of land have Certificate of Occupancy and fully paid for, to AGIS of the FCDA.
Although the said plots were bought and allocated to his company some years ago, development could not take place owing to the presence of illegal squatters including FCT indigenes, artisans who had erected illegal structures on the properties.
All lawful efforts by him and other adjoining plots owners with the authorities of the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA) and Federal Capital Administration (FCTA) since 2008 to eject the squatters failed.
For instance, the plaintiff had in a letter addressed to the Director, Resettlement and Compensation Department, FCDA and dated April 22, 2013, requested ‘for executive intervention for the immediate removal of illegal squatters from plots 897, 898 and 899 in Gudu District B01, Abuja.’
In the said letter, the Senator had prayed the Director of Settlement, ‘to take all and appropriate actions to enable him to take possession of his landed properties, plots 897, 898 and 899, and commence immediate development of same.’
Attached to the letter were receipts of payment for Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of the three plots of land including the FCT Ministers’ approval of May 18, 2011, to the Director, Development Control for the removal of illegal squatters in plots 897, 898 and 899.
A similar letter was sent to the Department of Development Control, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) on March 13, 2017.
In 15 paragraphs supporting affidavit to the motion, the depondent, David Olowoniwa, argued that in 2019, when the said FCT indigenes were fully resettled by the authorities with adequate compensation for logistics, the plaintiff and other landowners swiftly moved in to take possession, after the illegal structures erected on the affected plots of land were demolished and levelled out by the FCDA on August 10.
The court was told that after eventually taking possession of the three plots of land, the plaintiff erected fence walls and metal gates to secure the properties only for some construction companies Messrs. CGC and Gilmor Eng Nig Ltd, to start erecting pillars and barbed wire fences enclosing all the perimeter walls of plots 897, 898 and 899.
This was done in the face of a subsisting injunctive order of court procured to stop the imminent trespass on Thursday, September 9.
Specifically, on Saturday, September 12, an official of the FCDA led bulldozers to demolish all the structures causing damages in the region of N50 million.
Meanwhile, a competent source from the FCT administration has confided in our reporter that two of the plots of land belonging to the politician have been allegedly given to Gilmor Eng Ltd by some officials of the Development Control, to develop construction yard.
Speaking on the development, the plaintiff wondered ‘how a government or an agency of government will be found to have flouted court orders with impunity by violating citizen’s rights through trespass.”
He noted that all the Certificates of Occupancy for the three landed properties were granted by the same agencies of government.
According to the former federal lawmaker, ‘government or its agencies should be the last institution to resort to self-help.’