Victim laments AMMC’s ‘unjust’ demolition of Abuja private clinic
•Seeks justice, FCT minister’s intervention •She had no building approval, says authority
An Abuja hospital owner, Mrs. Christina Umolu, has lamented how authorities of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) unleashed bulldozers on her LEAH-JADA-JOSEPH clinic, demolishing the multi-million property despite a reported ongoing court process.
However, AMMC’s authorities, who were contacted by The Guardian, alleged that the victim had no government approval to erect the property. The demolition of the facility, located on Plot 34, Phase AA3 behind the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Kuje, the victim alleged, was spearheaded by a supervising officer in AMMC, Mariam Usman, attached to the Department of Development Control, sub-unit under the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council .
According to Mrs. Umolu, a medical practitioner and principal associate of the property, who lives in United Kingdom (UK), she procured the land in 1993 as an allotee, having followed legitimate procedure of acquisition, including payments, and was given official documents, such as dated Conveyance letter with registered details, proof of receipts issued in name of the bearer, approved letter of Survey, also in the name of the bearer and Letter of acknowledgement for Right of Occupancy.
However, after years of setting up a thriving private medical outfit, she alleged that one Mrs. Juliet Ume Ezeoke appeared with claims of being the rightful owner of the land where the hospital was built, and declared to have purchased the land in 2020.
She added, “this alleged bogus claim, however, was challenged by me in a swift reaction, hence a court proceeding was instituted at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in 1. Suit number: CV/1894/2020, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku Nwagwu Formerly known as Ume -Ezeoke Vs Dr. Ogunyemi Joseph Oluwatobi (Doing Business under the name and Style LEAH JADA JOSEPH Hospital) Presided over by Justice V.S. Gaba (Sitting as Presiding Judge FCT High Court) 22 Kwali, now Kuje, Abuja.”
She said, while the suit was ongoing, and yet to be given final pronouncement by the court, it came to her as a rude shock when she received a notice of illegal structure and stipulated in the paper, was a deadline to comply with the removal or risk outright demolition of the said property on the land in dispute.
“These letter of notice was served on September 8, 2022 bearing the official Header Of AMMC with reference tagged ‘DEMOLITION ORDER’) The bone of contention raised, on the said demolition order carried out by the Department of Development Control, through the Supervisory officer in charge on that fateful day of November 3, 2022, was that the acquisition did not follow due process”.
The victim is alleging unprofessional conduct, as all channels for communications before the exercise were breached. She said the officer did not communicate her superior (Mr. Usman Galadinma), who was contacted and appeared caught off-guard, upon receiving an emergency distress complaint about the intending demolition order to be effected by Mariam Usman, who led the team of officials from the Department of Development Control to pull down the earmarked building.
The victim alleged that it even got more complicated when her boss placed several calls to Mariam’s phone, which rang countless times, but she was said to have refused to answer, sensing her boss might prevail on her to soft- pedal, as she appeared bent on pulling down the structure at all cost.”
She said: “We beckon on the Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, to intervene and call the reported officer to order, by not obstructing the course of justice with their apparent complicity and refusing to allow the court to determine the matter.
“It is therefore expedient to call the erring Agency and its department to caution, by allowing the High Court decide the outcome of the pending suit vested under its purview without unsolicited diversionary interference by AMMC.”
Reacting to Umolu’s allegation on telephone, Mariam Usman said due process was followed prior to the demolition. Her words: “She is a citizen of Nigeria and I am also a citizen, so even if she sends my name to all the newspapers, it will not disturb me because the matter is as a result of the discharge my duties. In the first place, in that petition she wrote, she suggested that she had only one notice, but never mentioned that she received several notices. If you notice, she made mention of 2021. So, somebody you have served notice for good one year before carrying out demolition, does that mean due processes were followed. I didn’t know her before and she doesn’t know me, I don’t even know the complainant, but once you work in this country, if it doesn’t favour some people, they say you are a bad person. So, if I dance to her tunes, the complainant will be the one at the receiving end. All I do is try to do my best and leave the rest for the Almighty God.
“If they collect her land, they are not giving me one square metre out of it, so why should l do injustice. Somebody complained, we went there, in fact we did not mark the building that day since it is a hospital, we told them about the complaint, urged them to quietly bring their documents, so that we can add it up to this person’s own and investigate, they didn’t care. After like a month, we went because l did not give them notice at first because it is a hospital.” So, on another day we went, even the security man at the hospital came out to fight me, because when we first got there, l told the security man to talk to the senior doctor or whoever is in charge that the Development Control was here, that we were here before, may be the message was not properly conveyed. So they went inside and we heard their voices saying they will not come out, then we marked and we gave them notice. On another day we went because they did not even respond to notices. `
“l told them I was going to sue the hospital and they pleaded that they had patients in the house, so we left. After our quit/ demolition notice, they said they have approval, but you cannot use legal ways to correct illegality. She came, somebody represented her and said they have building plan approval. This is Abuja where we know that planning is properly followed. She does not have any single building plan approval from Development Control, if she has, let her present it to you people because, when you go to equity, go with your hands clean.
She does not have any building plan approval. Somebody lied, l have never met her and she has never met me, but someone lied that they have approval and they came with a drawing that had never been stamped and l asked them how they got it and they came with a conveyance that you can go to a business centre and type and backdate since everybody knows that the processor building plan is no more in existence. All are now done in the centre, which is the Development Control. These days ,as we speak, people type and forge it. They came with documents, fake approval, no building plan, no development control. My director is aware of everything. I have forwarded the allegation to him.”
Reacting to the court case, she said: “We are not aware of any court case. I am hearing it from you for the first time. We were not served any court injunction. No one in our department received any such service by the court. If they served us, they should prove that they served us.”