Court Nullifies Transfer Of Abuja Land To Dame Jonathan
SAN FRANCISCO, May 02, (THEWILL) – An Abuja High Court presided by Justice Peter Affen, Thursday, nullified the purported revocation of a land measuring about 1.84 hectares allocated to the Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation, WAYEF, a non governmental organisation belonging to the former First Lady, Hajia Turai Yar’Adua, by the Federal Capital Territory Administration.
Maintaining that the claims by the FCT Minister, Mallam Bala Mohammed, that the land was revoked in public interest was not supported by any evidence before the court, the court therefore held that the initial letter of offer issued to Turai's organisation by the Minister remains valid and subsisting.
The disputed land, Plot no. 1347 Cadastral Zone AOO, Central Business District, Abuja, FCT, was initially allocated to WAYEF when Hajia Yar’Adua was the First Lady, but the FCT Minister revoked the allocation for what he described as “overriding public interest” and reallocated same to Dame Jonathan for the building of African First Lady Peace Mission Headquarters on November 2, 2011.
But in its ruling, the court said : "The defendants failed woefully to adduce any shred of evidence before this court to support their claims that the allocation of the land was revoked on overriding public interest. There is no overriding public interest in this issue. The allocation made to the plaintiff which is a vocational training centre was in public interest and in line with section 28 (1) of Land Use Act."
The court also faulted the FCT Minister's exercise of his powers in revoking the plot of land allocated to WAYEF, saying the exercise of that power to revoke allocation of land must come within the confines of the law.
But the Head of the Legal Unit of the FCT Administration, Mrs. Ima Akpongete, has indicated that the FCTA will appeal the decision, saying the minister exercised the power of his office accordingly in revoking the allocation and reallocating it to First Lady's Peace Mission.
The delivery of the court's judgment was severally adjourned to enable Dame Jonathan and Hajia Turai Yar'Adua reach a negotiated settlement to no avail.
Hajia Yar’Adua had complained that the land allocated to WAYEF on February 19 ,2010 was being trespassed upon by Dame Jonathan and got a court order in 2012 restraining the First Lady from affecting WAYEF title and interest over the land.
As part of the moves to get a negotiated settlement, the FCTA had offered WAYEF Plot. 1838 Cadastral Zone AOO Abuja measuring 6119.29 square meters as replacement plot. While another plot 1839 was also proposed to be in favour of the African First Lady Mission, measuring 6100.51 square metres.
But WAYEF's lawyer, Mr. Adamu Ahmed Ibrahim, observed that while it appears that the Ministry of Justice may be interested and committed to a settlement, their terms and what they offer say otherwise.
According to the lawyer, the land being offered by the FCTA was a much smaller parcel of land than the one purportedly acquired from WAYEF for Dame Jonathan.
The said Plot Nos 1838 and 1839 are subdivided from plot 700 CBD Cadastral Zone AOO, Abuja.
Those joined as co-defendants in the suit are the FCT Minister, the Abuja Geographic Information System, AGIS, and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF.
Turai, on behalf of her organisation, WAYEF, is asking for N1.5 billion as general damages, N100 million as exemplary damages, N100 million as aggravated damages in addition to N261 million already paid for Certificate of Occupancy as well as N454 million paid for building designs.
While the court revoked the re-allocation, it however did not grant Turai's demand for monetary damages.