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FCT Natives Contest Ownership Rights To Ancestral Communities

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Some natives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have asked the High Court of FCT to make an order, affirming their rights to the ownership of their ancestral homelands and communities.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Musa Baba-Panya, told the presiding judge, Justice Abubakar Kutigi, in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the plaintiffs; Adamu Isyaku, Abdulrahaman Salihu, Ibrahim Madalla, Adamu Guniya and Haruna Lauya had sued the Nigeria Army, chief of Army Staff and Minister of FCT Administration as 1st to 3rd respondents respectively.

In a fundamental right enforcement suit marked: M/10222/2020 dated and filed Sept. 28, 2020 by Baba-Panya, the plaintiffs, for themselves and on behalf of Zuba, Tunga Maje, Kpakuru, Iddo Sarki, among others, sought 18 reliefs.

The plaintiffs asked the court to make “an retraining the respondents or their officers from carrying out further threats of armed and forceful invasion or takeover of their ancestral homelands and property, pending such time as the due process for compulsory acquisition and prompt payment of compensation and resettlement is duly complied with.

“An order nullifying the purported claim to ownership of Applicants’ property by 1st and 2nd respondents without the prior allocation or grant of right of occupancy by the 3rd respondent to be unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.

“An order affirming applicants’ fundamental rights to the prompt payment of compensation (pre and post Feb. 4, 1976) in the event of compulsory acquisition of their said ancestral homelands and property,” among others.

When the matter was called, Baba-Panya told the judge that his clients had gone through trauma as a result of the act.

He argued that where there was a compulsory acquisition, there must be a compensation.

He urged the court to protect the right of his clients to life, ownership and occupation of their communities.

But counsel to the Nigeria Army and Chief of Army Staff, Lukman Fagbemi, prayed the court to strike out the names of his clients from the suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs had not shown any reasonable cause of action to warrant his clients being joined in the suit.

He argued that there was nothing on record to show that the applicants were allocated the lands in dispute.

“There is nothing to show by the applicants that this is their land, other than, they have been staying there for long,” he said.

Fagbemi also urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.

He cited the July 27 judgment of the Supreme Court delivered against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Eyitayo Jegede.

In that suit, filed against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and another, where Jegede had failed to join the Caretaker Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Gov. Mai- Mala Buni of Yobe, in the suit on Ondo State governorship poll.

Although Fagbemi also argued that their prayers should not be granted on the grounds that the fundamental right enforcement suit was filed inappropriately, the court disagreed with him.

Corroborating, lawyer to the FCTA minister, Sadiq Haruna, also urged the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that it was incompetent
“That by combined effect of Constitution of Nigeria, this suit does not disclose any reasonable cause of a action,” he said.

Haruna argued in the entire application and the statements of the applicants, the 3rd respondent committed no crime and that the demand for compensation should not arise.

The lawyer urged the court to either strike out the name of the 3rd defendant or dismiss the suit in its entirety.

Justice Kutigi adjourned the matter until Dec. 15 for continuation of hearing.(NAN)

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