Niger communities sue FG N1.1tr over Zungeru power project
No fewer than five riverine communities, representing 2, 844 aborigines of Samboro settlements in Madaka District of Rafi Council of Niger State have sued the Federal Government at the State High Court, demanding N1, 115, 595,47, 588 as compensation and general damages for economic degradation and destruction of their environment, occasioned by construction of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Dam.
In the suit, which has five ministers and the project manager as defendants, the plaintiffs are seeking a court order that the construction has led to destruction of their livelihoods and forceful ejection from their ancestral homes.
They prayed the court for a declaration that it is the joint and several acts of the defendants that led to continuous flooding and emotional conditions of Samboro communities, thereby forcefully ejecting them from their ancestral homes and subjecting them to immeasurable hardship and irreparable damages to their livelihoods.
The villagers also asked the court to declare that being original inhabitants of Samboro communities and having suffered as a result of the acts of the defendants, they are entitled to monetary compensation for the destruction of their farmlands, economic trees, houses and sabotage to their environment.
The plaintiffs, therefore, prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents and whosoever from trespass, further acts of trespass, effecting any act, action and conduct of any breach prejudicial and reprehensible.
They equally sought an order of court directing and compelling the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants to, within 48 hours of ruling, pay to the plaintiffs “the sum of one trillion, one hundred and fifteen billion, five hundred and ninety-five million, forty-seven thousand, five hundred and eighty- eight naira as monetary compensation for destruction of our farmlands, houses, ponds, sabotage to the environment, economic welfare and survival, as well as total annihilation of our sources of livelihood.”
Listed as defendants in the suit are Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Ministers of Power, Works, Environment and Project Manager of the Chinese construction firm, ZYNO, Mr. AbiyGetahun.
However, only the Ministry of Justice was represented by a counsel when the matter was mentioned in court last Thursday, prompting lawyer to the plaintiffs, Mohammed Ndalani, to seek adjournment for other defendants to be represented.
The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Mohammed, therefore, adjourned the matter to June 13 for hearing.
It was learnt that the electricity project is ready for commissioning, but for the raging dispute.