Demolition: Court Suit Is ‘Medicine After Death’, Minister Tells Court

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed? yesterday in an Abuja High Court said that there was nothing the court could do with respect to the suit filed by Minanuel Investment Limited challenging the demolition of 372 housing units at its estate in Abuja since the act had already been completed.

The lawyer representing the minister,? Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama (SAN) further told the court that Minanuel did not possess a legal title to claim ownership of the property and added that all 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 back-dated.
Meanwhile,? Justice Danlami Senchi after making an order for accelerated hearing of the matter, adjourned to February 25 to 28, 2013 for hearing.

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.

The government on its part withdrew its notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

It would be recalled that Minanuel Estate went to the court with a N5 billion suit against the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed over 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 N5 billion 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 violated 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.