Symbol of Justice
Patrick Ugeh and Sharon Akpa in Abuja
Amid protests by placards-carrying subscribers, developers of the 372 housing units at the Minanuel Estate along Airport Road, Lugbe, Abuja, demolished between September 29 and October 1 by the Federal Capital Development Authority, Minanuel Investments Limited yesterday made good its threat to sue the government for N5 billion.
In a statement of claims filed by Mr. Samuel Ogala, on behalf of Femi Falana Chambers at the FCT High Court, Wuse, the plaintiff demanded the amount for special and general damages for the houses estimated at N3 billion.
The developer urged the court to declare the demolition as illegal, null and void as it violates their rights to property and housing as well as to fair hearing guaranteed in sections 33, 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution.
Further, it wants a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, either acting by themselves, their agents, servants, assigns, privies or however called, from further entering into the land comprising plots ED1425, ED1427, ED1428, ED1429 and ED1430 to take possession and from reallocating them or any parts thereof to any persons.
Giving details of the alleged offences of the defendants, the company said it executed the power of attorney with NCR Associates and became the owner of the plots of land and that it purchased them for estate development and subsequently applied to the Abuja Municipal Area Council for a building approval after payment of necessary fees and was granted a building plan approval.
The plaintiff claimed that in addition to the housing units, it constructed paved road networks, sewage system and other infrastructural facilities in the estate.
It said the Senate Committee Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory made a public radio announcement in Abuja on 28 September, 2012 that the property had been allocated to the members of the National Assembly and that the plaintiff should appear before its committee on Tuesday 2 October 2012 with its evidence of building approval.
According to the plaintiff, while it was making effort to comply with the directive, the defendants forcefully entered the property between September 29 and 1 October 1 and demolished the houses.
It averred that this was done with malice, ill-will and spite, hence the defendants deliberately refused to follow due process.
The developer added that there were other estates in the same neighbourhood but were not pulled down by the defendants, and regretted that although they were aware of the development of the estate since 2004, the defendants waited till the houses were completed and almost ready for sale before they were destroyed.
According to the plaintiff, the defendants would carry out their threat to reallocate the land to other people without any legal justification if the court did not grant their claims.
Justice D.Z. Senchi, who presided over the proceedings, adjourned the case till November 29 for motion to be taken.