Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Abuja land dispute: Turai, Dame Jonathan’s settlement talks collapse

Before Justice Peter Affen of an Abuja High Court where the case was on trial, the Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) had offered to settle the matter amicably out of court.

Following this development, the court adjourned the matter at the instance of counsel to the AGF, Baba Sai’Idu, to allow time for the parties to reach an amicable resolution. Findings by Daily Sun at the Justice Ministry revealed that after a meeting with authorities of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), the Federal Government offered an alternative plot to the Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WAYEF), a non-governmental organization belonging to Hajiya Turai.

 However, the offer was rejected by WAYEF, the original owners of the land, for being too small . Specifically, two separate plots of land were offered to Turai’s NGO to choose from. The first plot No. 818 measuring 5,333 square meters is located at the central area close to Akwa Ibom House; while the second plot no 3,367 is along Airport Road, Wawa District, measuring 2.1 hectares.

In rejecting the offer, Daily Sun learnt that the legal representatives of WAYEF, from the law firm of Adamu, Ahmed, Ibrahim and Co noted that while the first plot was within a green area, the second plot of land fell within an un-approved layout of the city. The law firm, however, indicated the willingness of its client to discontinue with the suit and waive the cost of damages only if the defendants would allow them to resume work at the site. The suit in question was filed against the Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Muhammed, challenging the revocation of the land, which was duly allocated to it by the minister with the Right of Occupancy duly issued to it.  

Specifically, the registered trustees of WAYEF had applied and were granted an allocation of Plot 1,347 Cadastral Zone after paying N184.529, 438 as statutory right of occupancy, which was duly issued by the minister for Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Under the terms of grant, the plaintiff was given three years to develop the property based on approved building plans.

Shortly after, the FCT minister issued a notice of revocation of the said property, which it allocated to the plaintiff for the purpose of building a public institution (training/vocational centre]. The said letter of revocation was backdated with effect from October 27, 2011.

Immediately after the revocation letter was issued, the FCT minister, re-allocated the plot to another organisation, African First Ladies Peace Centre, to which by the current first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, was believed to be a sponsor.

It was at this stage that Turai’s organisation went to court to challenge the actions of the minister with respect to the revocation letter.

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