FCDA floors Obi in court over Abuja landed property

court.jpg-citynewsFEDERAL Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Abuja and others have for the second time won a legal battle over the soul of a choice landed property, Plot 1337 Asokoro District A04, FCT, Abuja, courtesy of a Court of Appeal, Abuja.

Also on the winning side with FCDA are the Minister, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and one Mohammed Sanni.

By the judgment of the Appellate Court, the trio floored the appellant, Mr. Peter G.O. Obi, who originally got the allocation for the disputed land.

However, as at the time of filing this report, The Guardian could not confirm whether the appellant, Obi, has sought intervention of the Supreme Court of Nigeria or not, as counsel on both sides could not be reached for update.

And except otherwise stated, Obi’s right and interest on the landed property stand revoked.

The appeal, which Obi lost, sought to reverse a judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, in suit No. FCT/HC/CV/1440/07 of 14th November 2008.

Following unresolved controversy over the revocation of the property, Obi, had through his amended statement of claim, as the plantif, claimed jointly and severally against the defendants, as respondents that the trial court should declare that the purposed revocation of his right and interest over plot 1337 Asokoro District A04, Abuja FCT for no just reason was unlawful, immoral, illegal and a breach of contract between the first and second defendants, and himself having not conformed with the Land Use Act and the established procedure of FCDA, the second defendant.

Obi also urged the High Court to declare FCT Minister and FCDA, being first and second defendants could revoke his rights and interest over plot No.1337, Asokoro District A04, Abuja FCT except for valid reason and in accordance with the land use Act and laid down procedure of the second defendant.

Other prayers the plaintiff asked from the court are declaration that the purported revocation of his rights over the landed property by the first and second defendants, constituted an infringement on his constitutional rights to ownership of property and therefore, the court should quash the purported revocation supposedly done by the letter of 26th June 2006, same having not been in conformity with the requirements of the law or for any justifiable reason.

The plaintiff also urged the trail court to give a perpetual order restraining the Minister and FCDA from taking any step to revoke, withdraw or to take any step to forestall or frustrate his legal rights and interest over plot No.1337, Asokoro District A04, Abuja.

Further, Obi sought an order of court, perpetually restraining the third defendants, his principal, agents, servants, and/ or anyone claiming through him, from further trespassing on the landed property. The plaintiff also asked for the cost of this action.

According to the facts of the case, Obi bought plot No. 1337 Asokoro Abuja from its original allotee, sometimes, in 1999. A Power of Attorney was donated to him and deed of assignment to him drawn up and registered with the first and second respondents.

He said that when the plot was assigned to him, there was no access road and other infrastructure, and so he could not develop the plot within the stipulated period of two years as required by the certificate of occupancy.

At a point in time, the Minister and FCDA evolved a policy of recertification, which required holders of rights of occupancy, to submit same, for recertification.

He submitted his certificate of occupancy in that regard and was waiting for the result, when he received a letter from the officers of the first and second respondents, revoking his right and interest in the said plot, for failure to develop the plot within two years from the date of the certificate.

Thereafter, Obi wrote to the Minister and FCDA, entreating them to revisit the revocation but this did not yield any result. He said that up to the time the plot was revoked in 2006, no infrastructure had been provided.

On the other hand, the respondents stated that infrastructure had been provided and that the appellant having failed to develop the plot within two years was in breach of the condition contained in the certificate of occupancy and so they revoked the title.

The plot was re-allocated to the third respondent, Mohhamed Sanni, who said that there was infrastructure, and he developed the plot.

After the parties had filled and exchanged their pleadings, the matter went to trial. While appellant called five witnesses including four, who were on subpoena as staff of the second respondent, the first and second respondents called two witnesses, testified in person.

At the end of the trial, Obi’s case was dismissed. Dissatisfied, Obi filed two notices of appeal, dated 17th November 2008 and 21st January 2009, relying on the later to prosecute his appeal, as the former notice was struck out.

After joining issues, one of the areas their lordships decided the matter was on whether the judgment of the trial court was in any way whatsoever, perverse?

Reviewing the submissions, the Appeal Court said it failed to see how the trial Judge could be faulted for making the comment he did.

“The appellant pleaded that there was no infrastructure and aeriel image would confirm that. He subpoenaed the officials and when they came, he simply applied to withdraw them. Clearly, this court adds its voice to that of the trial Judge, that an opportunity to nail the point had been missed in the regard. There was nothing perverse in the comment of the trial Judge, as it did not run counter to the pleadings or what transpired in court, and no case was made for the respondent thereby.”

Similarly, Justices Abubakar Yahaya, Joseph Ekanem and Mohammed Mustapha in their concluding reasoning and submission said: “The result is that the judgment of the trial court cannot be disturbed. The appeal fails and it is dismissed. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed. N30,000 costs to the third respondent.”

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