Alleged Illegal Land Seizure: Ex-Army General Heads to A’ Court

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By Alex Enumah

A former Major General of the Nigerian Army, AbdulRauf Tijani, yesterday said he would approach the appeal court to challenge the dismissal of his N8 billion suit against the Lagos State Government and six others over land matter.

Tijani had dragged the defendants, which include the Federal High Court, the National Judicial Council (NJC), Attorney General of Lagos State among others before the Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged unlawful seizure of his of land in Lagos State.

Other defendants are the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); Justice A. O. Faji of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court; former Lagos State Attorney General, Abdulraheem Ade Ipaye; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kasheem Adeniji; Lagos State Government and Governor of Lagos State.

In the suit he filed and argued by himself, the retired general is seeking the conviction of Justice Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged perversion of the course of justice.

But delivering judgment yesterday, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the suit on the grounds that it constituted a gross abuse of court process, adding that the suit was defective in nature and contents.

Speaking shortly with journalists after the judgment, the retired major general, however, said he was not satisfied with the judgment and that a notice of appeal would be immediately filed to challenge the findings of the court.

Justice Ekwo in the judgment held that the case of the plaintiff ran afoul of Section 63 of the Federal High Court Act having been instituted against a serving judge of the court in the discharge of his judicial duties.

The Judge held that immunity granted a serving judge in the course of judicial function was not ambiguous, adding that when such a Judge erred, the appropriate place for remedy was not a law court.

Tijjani had in the suit accused Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, of allegedly conniving with some officials of the state to frustrate his case, challenging the alleged unlawful seizure of his property by the Lagos State Government.

The plaintiff specifically challenged the alleged sabotage of the execution of a court judgment which returned his landed property in Lagos State to him.

In arguing his case, the retired army general urged the court to intervene in the matter because a judgment entered in his favour has been ‘criminally sabotaged’ allegedly by the Lagos State authorities in connivance with the Federal High Court Judge.

Tijjani, although not a lawyer, argued his case himself, and prayed the court to look into the justice of his case, adding that what was before him was criminal in nature and not ordinary misconduct of a judge.

He alleged that after a Federal High Court in Lagos entered judgment in his favour in his suit challenging the unlawful seizure of his property by the Lagos State authority, the judge, in connivance with the then Lagos Attorney General took the case file to a Lagos State High Court which he accused of now sitting as an Appeal Court over the Federal High Court’s judgment.

The army general urged the court to assume jurisdiction because both the leadership of the NJC and the Federal High Court are based in Abuja.

In his fundamental human rights suit, he prayed Justice Ekwo to order the Lagos State Government and the state governor to pay him a cumulative compensation of N8 billion as damages for alleged injustice suffered in the hands of Lagos State officials.

In the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/690/2020, the plaintiff also asked the Judge to compel the National Judicial Council (NJC) to pay him another sum of N100 million for alleged misconduct of Justice A. O. Faji during the hearing of his matter.

In addition, he asked the court for an order for the trial of Justice Faji for allegedly perverting the course of justice in his case.

Besides, Tijjani prayed the court to compel the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to remove the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on Kasheem Adeniji and further de-bar him for alleged act of misconduct.

However, respondents in the suit, except the third (NBA) and sixth (Adeniji SAN), all urged the court to dismiss the suit for lacking merit and being largely defective.