War in Calabar


…As NPA workers battle doctor over estate

From JUDEX OKORO, Calabar

There is a war going on in Calabar right now. A medical doctor and the court are battling the workers of the Nigeria Ports Authority over the ownership of the NPA Quarters, otherwise known as Harbour Village in the Canaan City. In the last 38 years, there has been a protracted legal battle over ownership of the NPA Quarters at Ekorinim, Calabar Municipal Council in Cross River State. The legal tussle has been between the NPA workers and a medical practitioner in the state, Dr. Sama Ekpo Sama.

For many years, NPA staffers in Calabar have occupied the Harbour Village, using the estate as their official residential apartments. The place, comprising over 46 bungalows with various recreational facilities, was allegedly designed for Dr. Sama’s Health Farm Clinic and Resort. It was gathered that the NPA offered Dr. Sama N40 million through a third party. Sama was said to have rejected the offer, however, insisting that the property was worth over half a billion naira.

Investigations by our reporter indicated that on his return from Switzerland in the early 1970s, Sama applied to the NPA authorities to take over his property but was turned down owing, allegedly, to an interest expressed by some top maritime operators to take over the estate. Sama was said to have expressed his desire to use the property to build a hospital, following his invitation by the state government to help develop the health sector. Following the failure of NPA to hand over the estate, Dr. Sama dragged the agency to court in 1984. In the suit No. C/104/84, he prayed the court to order the occupants, who had “confiscated” the property measuring about 11.04 hectares, to vacate the place.

The court presided over by Justice U.J. Udofia, after hearing from the two parties, on February 18, 1985, delivered a judgment in favour of the plaintiff (Sama), declaring him as the rightful owner of the parcel of land and property herein. Since obtaining the judgment, Dr. Sama has taken several steps to enforce it but all such efforts have remained futile.

One of such attempts was reportedly on June 4, 2009. Worried by this development, he applied for another execution order, which was issued by Justice S.M. Anjor. The order extended the time within which the judgment could be enforced by the creditor/applicant.

The NPA appealed the judgment at the Federal High Court but it also lost the case. On August 8, 2012, Dr. Sama filed a motion on notice to revalidate the execution order in the Suit No. HC/MSC. 180/2012. He prayed the court to extend the time within which to enforce the 1985 judgment. The renowned medical practitioner, in the motion, also asked the court to grant him leave to apply for the issuance of execution processes for the purpose of enforcing the judgment and any further orders the court might deem fit to grant.

The presiding Judge, Justice B. E. Ikpeme, in his ruling, said: “After hearing Mba Ukweni Esquire, Counsel for the judgment Creditor/Applicant and I.E. Ikona Esquire, Counsel for the Judgment Debtors/Respondents adopt their respective written addresses; “It is hereby ordered that this application be and is hereby granted and the orders are made as specifically prayed in 1&2 of the Judgment Creditor/Applicant’s motion paper.” To execute the order, the court officials, along with police escorts, stormed the premises on September 17 and evicted the staff and their family members, numbering over 100 from the residential quarters.

This development paralysed business activities at the port as all the entrances to the ports were locked up over the alleged insensitivity of the management of NPA and the minister of transport. Members of staff protested their eviction from the NPA staff quarters and expressed worry that apart from the Ports Manager, the management of the NPA had shown minimal concern, if any.

They lamented that most of the affected staff were sleeping in their offices with their families. Some of the affected staff complained that apart from their belongings that were thrown out without any prior notice, those that came to enforce the eviction looted some of their personal belongings, including huge sums of money. Chairman, Senior Staff Association of the Port, Comrade George Umoh, said the port would remain locked until the authorities of the NPA and the minister of transportation looked into their plight and provided them with alternative accommodation. Comrade Umoh said the action of the staff became necessary because the workers had no place to lay their heads with their families as they were evicted without any notice to look for alternative accommodation. He said besides breaking into their quarters and throwing their property away, those that came to enforce the order collected huge sums of money from them.

He said since the incident, attempts to talk to the management of NPA or government officials had not produced any positive results. Besides, he said it was not possible to get and pay for a new house in Calabar within the period. He said some landlords had cashed in on their plight to exploit members, adding that the development had forced many of their children out of school. Umoh appealed to the leadership of the NPA and the Federal Government to come to their aid, saying the eviction was causing them serious trauma.

He spoke further: “We are not against whoever is the rightful owner of the property, taking possession of it. But even if the property belongs to Dr. Sama and even if the court had delivered judgment without the knowledge of NPA, Dr. Sama should have given us two week’s notice. “Evicting us with thugs is barbaric. The management has to do something.

We are not happy that we are keeping people going to do business at the port outside, but the situation we found ourselves requires what we are doing,” he stated. In a solidarity rally, Chairman of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, NPA branch, Comrade Ajayi Bamidele, said the presence of his union was to give solidarity to the NPA workers over what they were passing through, as they had become homeless. Bamidele said: “We are not saying that the Harbour Village should not be given to whoever owns it. What we are saying is that they should have given us notice and should not have used thugs to drive us out and loot our property, including our money.”

But there is a new development. Fifteen of the evicted NPA workers are said to have re-occupied the apartments. In a chat with our correspondent, a lawyer, Mr. Mba Ukweni, regretted the attitude of the NPA workers. He confirmed that some of the workers have reoccupied the apartments. “The development is regrettable,” he stated. “Some of them have returned to the premises or apartments. When we saw that, we decided to make a complaint. According to him, one of those that have returned illegally to the quarters is a senior police officer (names withheld) and some other policemen.

“When we saw him, we complained to the Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police in charge of the Zone 6 Calabar. The AIG called him to order and directed him to withdraw the policemen from there. He immediately withdrew the policemen there and vacated the premises. But we have learnt now that a very senior police officer at the Force Headquarters ordered him to return to the premises even against his protest that he was likely to suffer the consequences of disobeying a court order.” At the moment, over 20 policemen have been deployed to the estate.

It was learnt that they are there to prevent the family and guests of Dr. Sama from gaining entry into the place. When the reporter called at the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Assistant General Manager in charge of Calabar Ports, Mr. A. A. Dandare, was said to be out on official duties.

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  1. The title u gave on this page “there is war in Calabar”doesn,t commensurate with what was detailed on the information attached to it. This is pure rubbish publication. Someone has reclaimed his personal assets, if ur govt is responsible enough she should have taken alternative measures to shelter her workers. A tussle that began since early 1980’s. This Dr Sama must have being a good man otherwise no property owners in Nigeria can stomach all these insults meted out to Dr Sama, after series of court rulings in his favour. Pls stop inciting members of the public with unnecessary misinformation.

  2. ohikhuare omogbai on

    Please you guys should stop putting such scary headlines on papers. You will still sell no matter what. the idea of trying to make a story look interesting by giving it funny tags is bad. @OWERRI You are very correct cos the headline is a clear contradiction of the report. MR EDITOR, please learn to edit very well before endorsing any publication.

  3. The Country that preaches Rule-of-Law disobeying court rulings.
    1980 to date is enough time for NPA to do something for their staff in terms of accommodation.Dr. Sama must be a good man to give them such a long time.

    • That is the tragedy of Nigeria that a state parastatal can confiscate a citizen’s assets in this way!

      The Nigerian state curses its people with poverty!

    • @ Saka C. Haha, my friend look at the top of the news. The reporter’s name is Judex Okoro. Is that a yoruba name? Why are people so tribalistic, sentimental and myopic in their thinking? Even if it was a yoruba reporter, is that enough to hang such abusive tag on yoruba people?

      • His name is not an igbo name, mr seun read it again, (DEFENDER) Yorubas are the most tribalistics ppl I ever seen, lies is a way of there life, no truth in them, so seun go and ask ur fada and moda they wil tel u if they ill tell u the trut, betrayals,the only truh in there mouth is to betray u and colect money and that is what this reporter hav done.

      • @Keniy I dont know whether you suck ur mama breast, bcos u must be sufering from low brain dease by insulting an oldman like me,ur ppl need to take u to hospital for thorough examination b4 it wil turn to madnes, fool.

  4. The owner of the property is lenient to have been patient since ’85. What else does the NPA and the so called senior police officer want.

  5. I expected to hear that the court order enforcercers stole $1billion. Hopeless Nigerians. When u illegally occupied somebody’s property you want to be legally informed.

  6. we are always quick to blame the government and pdp for everything whereas the average nigerian is as bad as the worst politician…here is a man who saved up and invested his money in property in his home town in order to build an hospital how did they pay him back? by occupying and refusing to leave…imagine how much the man had spent over 30yrs to recoup his own property? in spite of that they are still complaining that he should have given them 2 weeks people are wicked heartless honestly what if the man had died all these years? we find it difficult to obey the rule of law when it does not favour us and we expect the wealthy,govt and politicians to do so


  8. Enough of tribal sentiment in public glare JUDEX OKORO is the reporter go up and see. However, Dr. Sama suppose to sue NPA and FG for loss of use for 27 years as the favoured Plaintiff thr the Court Judgement to serve as deterrent to ors. If we have good system in Nigeria, this court proceeding suppose to have ended in 1986. There are so many cases in court for more than three years now being delay through frivolous application by counsel with the connivance of Magistrates and Judges, esp in Criminal Proceedings. Witnesses that have testified and duly cross examined will still be recalled by Defence Cunsel and Court will allow such delay – this can delay the case for years at the detriment of complainant(s). This is to frustrate complainant out of the case in order to free the defendant esp when the case is clear with overwhelming evidence already given. e.g Magistrate Court 8 Iyaganku Ibadan. COP vs Kayode Banjo.

  9. Dr. Sama must be a Saint but I want to ask him to approach
    the courts again in a bid to recover every kobo the NPA and
    the Police have stolen from him all these years!
    But wait a minute, what is the Inspector General of Police
    doing about those policemen who are clearly contemptous
    of a court order? Those who are constitutionally charged with enforcing the laws of the land must not be seen to be
    breaking them.

  10. That is the strategic plans of Marketing. to draw people attention.Maybe they never sale market last week and this week hahah the Sun nawaaa.

  11. Mr Editor pls advise ur repoters on the use of headline that is capable to cause unnecessary fear to teeming visitors who are willing to make Calabar their home in this festive period. If not the peaceful nature of Calabar which we are known for,we would have sue ur media house for fault information,intimidation and other damages caused by ur caption. Be careful.

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