Federal civil servants sue govt over alleged bid to evict them, sell property

ABOUT 800 occupants of Transit Village, Victoria Island, Lagos, have asked a Federal High Court, Lagos, to restrain the Federal Government from its alleged plan to eject them from the property they live in.

  The plaintiffs, who are federal civil servants, also challenged the alleged move to offer for sale about 109 housing units they live in.

  In the suit marked FHC/L/CS/201/2009, which was filed before Justice Ibrahim Buba, the plaintiffs, who sued for themselves and on behalf of other residents are Mrs. Chinwe Abara, Mr. Leonard Agbibama, Malam Ibrahim Abdul, Mr. Samuel Obi, Alhaji Haliru Gandu and Mr. Clifford Atakere.

  Joined as the defendants are the Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development, the Chairman, Implementation Committee on Alienation of Federal Government Landed Property and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice.

  Other defendants are the Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, United African Property Development Company Plc, Bank of Industry (BoI) and the Transit Village Development Company Ltd.

  Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. D.O. Takon, argued that the purported sale of the said property to the fifth and seventh defendants did not comply with the stipulated mode of implementation of the Federal Government’s privatisation policy and monetisation programme initiated in 2005.

  According to him, the plaintiffs, who had been occupying the said property for over 30 years as government workers, had the right to be asked whether or not they intend to pay for the property before same could be offered to a third party.

  He said: “To ensure that none among the qualified public/civil servants is made a scapegoat or left vulnerable to human prejudice, discrimination, favouritism, malice, bias, vendetta and to further ensure that the exercise was not undermined by human failures, the opportunity to participate in the Federal Government’s privatisation programme was made absolutely open to all sitting tenants of the Federal Government of Nigeria who are public/civil servants.”

  The plaintiffs, who said that they were forced to drop their initial move to sue the government after being threatened by some people, are asking for an order of the court compelling the first and second defendants to issue to them letters of offer “in furtherance of the Federal Executive Approved Guideline for the Alienation of the Federal Government Property”, having duly paid the prescribed fees and satisfied other prescribed conditions for sale or lease of the property at Transit Village, Victoria Island, Lagos.

  Hearing in the matter has been adjourned to February 27.

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