Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim Kamba, a landowner in Abuja, has taken legal action against the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, and the Director of Development Control. He alleges that they demolished his under-construction building situated at Plot 226, Cotonou Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja.
This legal action was formally announced in a statement released on Thursday by his attorney, Okechukwu C. Uju-Azorji, who is affiliated with the Festus Keyamo Chambers.
The statement reads, “On Monday, August 29, 2023, our client was greeted with the news of demolishing his structure under construction at Plot 226, Cotonou Street, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja. In the interview granted shortly by the Director of Development Control, he stated, “We demolished the duplex because somebody built on someone else’s land without valid title…”
“The plot itself belonged to the predecessor in title of our client, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim Kamba, who had built a guest house (popularly called “Boys’ Quarters”) on the Plot where he was collecting rent for upwards of 25 years before selling and handing over possession to our client in 2019. Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim Kamba in turn bought the property during the lifetime of the original allottee, Oyebade Lipede.
“When our client commenced the development of the Plot including the renovation of the existing guest house, a certain Abuja-based legal practitioner took out a Direct Criminal Complaint against our client at the Grade 1 Area Court, Abuja for trespass, claiming that the property belonged to Oyebade Lipede, the late Alake of Egbaland. The suit was dismissed on 1/9/2020 with the Grade 1 Area Court Judge specifically urging the parties to refer the matter to FCT High Court since it has become issue of title to land (CTC of Ruling attached).
“Rather than bring an action in Court for declaration of title to the land, the said Abuja based legal practitioner was busy approaching different segments of the Federal Capital Territory Administration where it has become obvious that he enjoyed the cooperation of some persons, who unfortunately bought into his narrative that the plot belonged to the late Alake of Egbaland. On one occasion, our client saw from this lawyer that the only root of his title claim is a portion of a Will allegedly belonging to said late Alake of Egbaland, where a portion made reference to a piece of land in Abuja. The plot number, location, and other details were however not captured in the alleged Will.”
It added, “When the Department of Development Control demolished our client’s fence on 23rd June, 2023, a fence which had existed for the past 25 years, our client was surprised. Acting within the bounds of the law, we took out an action in the FCT High Court against the Minister of the FCT for trespass (Writ is attached).
“Since the Director of Department of Development was not a party to the suit having sued his principal, the Minister of FCT, we deemed it wise to also notify him of the pendency of the suit via a letter received in his office on July 4, 2023, attaching the Writ of Summons. The letter was also copied to the Director of Legal Services in his Department. For the Department to have proceeded to demolishing the entire structure while Suit No: FCT/HC/CV/6616/2023 on the subject-matter was pending is reckless and beyond the powers of the Minister of the FCT.
“Nigeria is not a lawless Nation, and with these events, it will be unlikely that we will fail to take out contempt proceedings against the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory for abuse of the processes of the FCT High Court. It must be noted that under the current regime of the Rules of the FCT High Court, it is mandatory that a Writ of Summons for filing in that court must be endorsed that parties are to maintain status quo. The implication of this is that once an action has been filed in that Court, no party can claim that there was no formal Order of Injunction granted, for that endorsement on the Writ serves that purpose.
“Again, the law is clear that once a public officer like the Director of Development exceeds the scope of his powers in the discharge of his duties, he is personally liable in an action by an aggrieved party. We will therefore not hesitate to join the Director of Development Control of the FCT Administration to the pending suit for abuse of office. This is because he had no powers to demolish our client’s property on the allegation that our client built on someone’s land. Thank you.