From GODWIN TSA Abuja
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Senator Bala Mohammed yesterday said there was nothing the court can do in respect to the suit filed by Minanuel Investment limited challenging the demolition of 372 housing units at its estate in Abuja since the act has already been completed.
Besides, the minister, through his legal team headed by Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama (SAN) submitted that Minanuel did not possess a legal title to claim ownership of the property. Gadzama shocked the court presided by Danlami Zenchi when he announced that the plots in the estate had been reallocated to their rightful title holders.
But plaintiff’s counsel, Femi Falana (SAN) countered his submissions, alleging that the documents might have been backdated. Meanwhile, the court has ordered an accelerated hearing of the matter and adjourned till February 25 to 28, 2013. The adjournment came after counsel to the plaintiff withdrew his motion seeking an injunction to. stop the government from further demolition of structures or interfere with development on the site of Minanuel Estate along the Airport Road in Abuja.
Government on its part withdrew its notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit. Minanuel Estate had headed to the court with a N5billion suit against the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Bala Mohammed, at an Abuja High Court for the demolition of 372 housing units belonging to the developer, Minanuel Investment Limited between September 29 and October 2, 2012.
Falana, who is acting on behalf of the estate developer, prayed the court to compel the minister to pay N5billion as special and general damages for the illegal demolition of the housing estate. In the writ of summons, which Falana filed on behalf of the company, the plaintiff is asking the court to grant its declaration that the demolition was illegal, null and void. It added that the Minister’s action violates the provisions of sections 47,50,51,53,60,83 and 84 of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act (N138), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The plaintiff is also praying the court to declare that the demolition violates its right to fair hearing, the right to property and the right to housing as guaranteed by sections 33,43 and 44 of the 1999 constitution and Articles 7 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A9), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. 2004.