Land dispute: court rules in favour of Turai Yar'Adua

By The Citizen

An Abuja High Court on Thursday declared as null and void the revocation of a plot of land allocated to Turai Yar'Adua by the Federal Capital Territory.

The court therefore revoked the notice of revocation issued to Turai by the FCT Administration on the plot with the judge, Peter Affen, ruling that taking the land from Turai, wife of the late President Umaru Yar'Adua and reallocating same to Mrs. Jonathan served no public interest.

Affen held that 'the revocation issued by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed, was invalid, null and void'' and that the plaintiff's (Turai's) right of occupancy over the 1.84 hectares of land remained valid and subsisting.

'There is no regular and proper overriding public interest to warrant the purported revocation,' the judge ruled, adding that it was the dispute between the plaintiff and Mrs. Jonathan that led to the purported revocation.

'The plot belongs to WAYEF, a site for the building of the head office of the plaintiff's pet project and so the dispute does not amount to overriding public interest,'' the judge said.

Affen said that the claim by the Attorney-General of the Federation that the plot had earlier been allocated for the building of the African First Lady Peace Mission was wrong.

'There is no evidence in all of the materials before me that the land had been initially granted.

'The minister did not rely on the alleged error while revoking the land but rather relied on evidence of overriding public interest.

The judge said, 'The disputed land, plot no. 1347 Cadastral Zone AOO, Central Business District, Abuja, FCT, was initially allocated to Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation while Mrs Yar'adua was First Lady.

'The minister of the FCT, Bala Mohammed, revoked the allocation for what he described as 'overriding public interest'.

'He then re-allocated the same land to Mrs Jonathan for the building of African First Lady Peace Mission Headquarters on the 2nd of November, 2011.

'The action of the FCT administration is not tenable in law as it was done contrary to the rules and law, and therefore will not stand.''

Turai had approached the court seeking the restoration of the plot allegedly taken by Patience.

The plaintiff said that the land allocated to WAYEF on Feb 19, 2010, was being trespassed upon by the President's wife and got a court order dated March 5, 2012 restraining the defendants from affecting WAYEF title and interest over the land.

Those joined as co-defendants in the suit are the Minister of FCT, Federal Capital Administration, the Abuja Geographic Information System, and the AGF.

Reacting to the court verdict on Thursday, Patience said she was not involved in a land tussle with her predecessor as Nigerians were made to believe.

The President's wife made the clarification in a statement by her spokesman, Mr. Ayo Osinlu.

Osinlu said the land which had beenĀ  a subject of litigation was between the Federal Capital Territory Administration and Hajia Turai Yar'Adua's non-governmental organisation.

He said neither the African First Ladies Peace Mission, led by Mrs. Jonathan nor the President's wife in her personal capacity was joined in the suit.

Osinlu said, 'Our office had repeatedly stated that the land, which had been a subject of litigation, was between the FCT Administration and Hajia Turai Yar'adua's NGO, and neither the African First Ladies Peace Mission, even though it is the original allottee of the land, nor Dame Patience Jonathan, who is the sitting President of the continental body, was joined in the suit.

'For purposes of emphasis, we wish to reiterate that, the land in question was first allocated to the African First Ladies Peace Mission, according to records available to us, during the tenure of Hajia Turai Yar'Adua as President of the Mission.

'If in leaving office she had decided to depart with the land, the FCT has taken appropriate logical action to retrieve the said plot for the original allottee and purpose.

'To this extent, we wish to state categorically that the judgment referred to in the media was not against the person of Dame Patience Jonathan, and we will like the public and well-meaning Nigerians to put the matter in its proper perspective for the purpose of accurate record and common good.'