Seizure of properties: FCT residents write petition against IGP Idris

Scale of justice

Residents of an Abuja, FCT community have petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, over the role and conduct of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris in flouting a valid judgment of the Court of Appeal over the illegal seizure of their properties at XK Layout, Apo District, FCT.

The layout which comprises of 78 hectares of land accommodates over 600 families that have been forcefully thrown out of their homes by the police on the orders of the Inspector General. The residents accused him of aiding and abetting a former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Mr. Clement Adesuyi Haastrup, and his company, ENL Consortium Limited to dispossess them of their property.

Already, an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Mr. Haastrup and the officials of his company for disobedience of a judgment of court, but residents pointed accusing fingers on Mr. Idris for refusing to carry out the order of the court.

The residents’ petition, written through their lawyer, MrOffiah Valentine, is coming on the heels of an accusation made against the Inspector General of Police by Senator Isa Hama Misau, representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District that the Inspector General failed to account for the huge billions generated from providing security for private firms and privileged individuals.

Senator Misau had also accused the police boss of not only diverting money meant for the purchase of Armored Personnel Carriers, Sports Utility Vehicles and other exotic cars but also receiving bribe to promote officers including filling the force with personnel of his Nupe ethnic tribe. He alleged police officers paid as much as N2.5 million to get special promotions and postings.

Trouble started for the residents in 2009 when the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory attempted to dispossess the residents of their land over which they claimed to have already been given titles by the same government. Several of the residents had already developed their properties and were living on it when they suddenly woke up one day in April 2009, and saw policemen and thugs move in with caterpillars brought by the ENI Consortium, claiming that government have approved the land to be used to build an estate. They were chased out and building on the land demolished.

The residents quickly approached an Abuja High Court and got an interlocutory injunction issued by Justice O.O Goodluck that restrained the Minister from forcing them out of the land pending the determination of the suit. Joined in the suit with the Minister are the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Federal Housing Authority (FHA), the Attorney General of the Federation and ENL Consortium Limited.

The suit went into trial and Justice Goodluck delivered judgment on May 27, 2011. The trial judge ruled that only those who had accepted the offer of the plaintiffs through payment could have access to their land.

Not satisfied, the residents approached the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the lower court judgment was a miscarriage of justice. On May 18, 2017, after going to trial, a panel of Justices of the Appellate Court led by Justice Mohammed Mustapha who read the lead judgment upturned the decision of the lower court, giving possession to the residents. Other Justices, Justice Emmanuel AkomayeAgim, and Justice Tani Yusuf Hassan concurred with the judgment.

After several attempts to get the police to assist the bailiffs of court to execute the judgment, and restore possession to the plaintiffs, the police eventually agreed via a letter dated September 27, 2017, to assist in the provision of security in execution, five months after judgment was delivered at the appellate court. Judgment was eventually executed on October 12, 2017.

The residents were about to heave a sigh of relief when on October 28, 2017, the police from Asokoro District led by the DPO, invaded the land again, chased out the residents, and padlocked the gates that lead to the layout. Till date, armed policemen are on guard while the lawful residents are locked out and left with an option of finding alternative accommodation.

The police did not stop there. They invited the leader of the residents that have been championing their cause since 2009, Mr.Mohammad Musa Tumala to the FCT Command over a case of “Criminal Conspiracy and suspected culpable homicide”. The police letter was dated November 10, 2017. It was a case of one Orika Ibe Kalu, a water engineer who died on June 22, 2017, in the course of pumping water from an underground septic tank.

In its investigation report dated June 26, 2017, and signed by one Inspector Ofon Bill, the police concluded that late Kalu “died of inhaling the carbon monoxide emissions from the water pumping machine that he used inside the soak-away pit. The pumping machine belongs to the deceased and he was fully aware that the machine had technical problems and he went ahead to make use of it that way. Based on the foregoing, it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that no person or persons was/were involved in the death of the deceased”. The police eventually backed down on the case after investigations proved that Mr. Tumala had no hand in the case.

In all these, the police despite the judgment of court are still in occupation of XK Layout, while the lawful owners are outside, hanging around and battling to survive.