Court reserves verdict in Abuja land feud
AFTER confirming the briefs filed by the parties and listened to oral arguments by counsel to all sides, a Court of Appeal, Abuja, has reserved judgment in a dispute over the ownership of a choice piece of land in Asokoro, Abuja on which a Nigerian in Diaspora, Mr. Imokhuede Ohikhuare, former Nigerian Envoy to South Africa, Ambassador Shehu Malami and a businessman, Sir Emeka Offor are flexing muscle.
A-three-justice panel of Justices W. Akomolafe, Tanin Yusuf and Moh’d Yusuf of the court, at the last hearing concluded arguments and adjourned the matter for judgment, which will decided one way or the other the ownership of the choice landed property.
Prior the suit, the appellant, Ohikhuare, had built two duplexes on the landed property.
But, he was said to have been forcefully ejected from his home, following allegation that Malami was the rightful owner, who had also claimed to have transferred his right over the land to Emeka offor. Going by the tradition of the court, judgment may be delivered any moment from now. At the hearing of the matter some days back, the Appeal Court justices confirmed the written briefs submitted to it on the matter and listened to oral arguments by counsel to the appellant, Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN) and Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) as well as the lawyer representing Ambassador Malami and Sir Offor – Chief Udenwa Udechukwu (SAN).
The suit, Appeal No CA/A/370/2012, has been before the Court of Appeal since 2012, witnessing many twists and turns for about three years now. In 2006, Ohikhuare, a businessman and appellant in the matter, bought the land in dispute for the sum of N50 million, perfected all instruments on it and built residential apartments valued at about N1 billion on the land.
Between the time Ohikhuare bought the land, built the apartments and moved in with his family – four years – the first and fifth respondents in the appeal, that is Ambassador Shehu Malami and Sir Emeka Offor, their privies or agent did not lay claims to Plot 1809 Asokoro. Mr. Ohikhuare was living with his family in the property until he was allegedly ejected with force from it, on the strength of a verdict by Judge A.S. Umar of an Abuja High Court.
In March 2010, Ambassador Malami filed a suit at an Abuja High Court before Judge A.S. Umar against the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Federal Capital Development Agency (FCDA) and a former Minister of Transport, Alhaji Mohammed Habib Aliyu, who sold the land to Mr. Ohikhuare, praying the court for a number of declarative and injunctive reliefs against them. According to his lawyers, Mr. Ohikhuare learnt of this suit by accident, as he was not joined in the matter by Ambassador Malami even when it was apparent that Mr. Ohikhuare was in legitimate possession of Plot 1809, Asokoro. Consequently, Mr. Ohikhuare wrote the trial court to be joined in the matter. At the trial court, Malami had claimed that the land was originally allotted to him in 1984, but was unlawfully revoked in October 2005 by the FCDA, which, thereafter, assigned Plot 1809 to Alhaji Aliyu, who eventually sold the land to Mr. Ohikhuare.
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