After several futile efforts to reach an out of court settlement failed, the land tussle between former First Lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua and Dame Patience Jonathan wound up on Thursday as Justice Peter Affren of an Abuja High Court set aside the revocation of a piece of land allocated to Hajiya Yar’Adua’s non-governmental organization, Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WOYEF).
The land situated on plot 1347 Cadastral Zone, Central Business District, Abuja had been allocated to Hajiya Yar’Adua’s WAYEF while she served as First Lady. The allocation was however revoked by the Minister for the FCT on account of “overriding public interest” and the land was subsequently re-allocated to Dame Patience Jonathan, the purpose being the building of the African First Ladies’ Peace Mission Headquarters.
The judge pointed out that the claims by the FCT Minister that the land which measures 1.84 hectares was revoked on an overriding public interest could not and was not supported by any shred of evidence before the court. The court therefore ruled that the initial letter of offer issued to WOYEF remains valid. The revocation of the allocation of the plot was faulted by the court which stated that the exercise of the power to revoke allocation of land must come within the confines of the law.
According to Justice Affren, “the defendants failed woefully to adduce any shred of evidence before this court to support their claims that the allocation of the land was revoked on overriding public interest. There is no overriding public interest in this issue. The allocation made to the plaintiff who is a vocational training centre was in public interest and in line with section 28 (1) of Land Use Act”
The former First Lady approached the court that the land allocated to her NGO on 19 February 2010 was being trespassed upon by the present First Lady and succeeded in getting a court order in 2012 restraining the First Lady from affecting WAYEF title and interest over the land.
WAYEF’s counsel, Adamu Ahmed Ibrahim, told newsmen that though the FCT appears to be committed to a settlement, their terms and what they offer says otherwise. He made it known that the Federal Capital Territory Administration had offered WAYEF Plot. 1838 Cadastral Zone AOO Abuja measuring 6119.29 square meters as replacement plot. While another plot 1839 was also proposed to be in favour of the African First Lady Mission, measuring 6100.51 square meters.
The court did not grant WAYEF’s prayer for damages as the organization sought N1.5 billion as general damages, N100 million as exemplary damages, N100 million as aggravated damages as well as N261 Million already paid for Certificate of Occupancy and another N454 Million paid for building designs.
From what the Head of the legal unit of the FCT Administration, Mrs. Ima Akpongete said however, there are indications that the legal fireworks are not yet over. In her opinion, the minister exercised the power of his office accordingly in revoking the allocation and reallocating it to First Lady’s Peace Mission, an indication that the FCT will file an appeal to challenge the decision of the High Court.