THE Federal Government yesterday prayed an Abuja High Court for time for it to settle out of court a tussle between the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan and former First Lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’Adua over a prized plot of land situated at Cadastral Zone in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
However, documents before the court showed that the disputed plot of land was duly allocated to Hajiya Yar’Adua’s non-governmental organisation – Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WYEF) by the Minister for the FCT with the Right of Occupancy dully issued to it.
Following an application by the Registered Trustees of WYEF, the FCT Minister had granted an allocation of plot 1347 Cadastral Zone after the Foundation paid the sum of N184.529, 438 as statutory Right of Occupancy, which was duly issued by the Minister for Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Under the terms of grant, the plaintiff was given three years to develop the property based on approved building plans.
After payment of the various levies, the plaintiff paid additional sum of N76, 936,210.00 as building plan fees following which the grant and approval of the building plans were made and given in line with the master plan for Abuja.
Thereafter, the plaintiff appointed and mobilized a building company, Al-Cooks Nigeria Limited to site to develop the property at the sum of N13, 516,013,797.58.
On November 1, 2011, the Federal Capital Territory Administration sent an additional bill of N18, 529,438 being the balance of the various charges under the grant, which the plaintiff paid the next day.
Shortly after these transactions, the Minister for the FCT, without reasons, issued a notice of revocation of the said property, which it allocated to the plaintiff for the purpose of building public institution (Training/Vocational Centre). The said letter of revocation was backdated with effect from October 27, 2011.
Immediately after the revocation letter was issued, the FCT Minister, Bala Muhammed swiftly re-allocated the plot to another organization, African First Ladies Peace Centre, which the current First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, is believed to be a sponsor.
It was at this stage that Hajiya Yar’Adua’s organisation went to court to challenge the actions of the minister with respect to the revocation letter.
Before Justice Peter Affen, it sought and obtained a restraining order barring the Minister and the FCT administration, the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) and the Attorney General of the Federation from carrying out further activities at the site.
But while the order of the court was still subsisting, the defendants in defiance of the said order mobilised workers to site to commence construction.
Faced with this act of arbitrariness, counsel to WYEF, Innocent Lagi went back to the court and initiated contempt proceedings against the respective defendants.
However, in an attempt to frustrate the hearing of the contempt proceedings, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation last Friday approached the court with a motion seeking to vacate the said order.
But Justice Affen ordered the AGF to put the necessary parties on notice and adjourned the matter for yesterday.
When the matter was called yesterday, counsel from the chambers of the AGF, Baba Sa’idu informed the court of Government’s willingness to settle the matter amicably out of court.
He added that already, his client has reached out to all the counsel to the parties before the court; a position collaborated by counsel the FCT Minister, the FCT Administration and AGIS, Felix Ibanga just as the plaintiff counsel, Lagi also confirmed the development.
Meanwhile, the case has been adjourned till September 24, 2012.
Author of this article: Lemmy Ughegbe, Abuja