Family sues Bayelsa over acquired N1b landed property
FOR claiming to have illegally acquired their land measuring 7.5 hectares, the Adugotu Family of Opolo, Yenagoa, has sued the Bayelsa State Government, seeking a repossession of its landed property.
The disputed land, valued at over N1 billion at current rate, is situated in a choice area of the state capital at the junction of Commissioners’ Quarters Road and Isaac Boro Expressway, opposite the headquarters of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Operation Pulo Shield.
Also sued are a firm, Pescal Nigeria Limited, and the first civilian governor of the state and late Dr. Diepreye Solomon Alamieyeseigha.
The plaintiffs, Obidiah Yakie, Omoya Napoleon Lagumo and Diankume Sunday Lagumo, for the Adugotu family of the Fambule Compound, also sued Pescal Nigeria Limited, the Executive Governor of Bayelsa State, Bayelsa State Ministry of Land and Survey, Yenagoa Capital City Development Authority and the Attorney General of Bayelsa State.
Hearing of the matter commenced at a High Court sitting in Yenagoa, when the Ijaw people are busy with the burial arrangements of their illustrious son, Alamieyeseigha.
The deceased was accused to have allegedly used a fake company, Pescal Nigeria Limited to take over the land from the natives.
The former governor, who died in November last year, would be given a state burial on March 24 to 26, this year.
The plaintiffs are asking for a declaration that the take over of the land by the defendants and the allocation of same to “Pescal Nigeria Limited, an alias of the second defendant, did not acquire the land for overriding public interest.”
They are also seeking orders setting aside the take over of the land by the defendants for being unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, as well as the “purported allocation of the land by the second to sixth defendants to the first defendant (Pescal Nigeria Limited) for being unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”
They further urged the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants by themselves, their agents, servants and privies from disturbing the claimants in their use, ownership and possession of the land.
In a written statement on oath by one Diewulu Harold, he stated that a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in Abuja revealed that Pescal Nigeria Limited is not registered or incorporated in Nigeria.
Harold also gave a historical background of the land in the written statement and that the land was allocated to members of the family for building of homes and farming before it was taken over by the defendants.
According to him: “Bayelsa State Government deceived the claimants’ family members that the land was needed for overriding public use by the government and paid for only the crops on the land without paying the claimants family members any form of compensation and took over the land.”
Harold said in the statement that the purpose for which the land is being used is not in the overriding public interest and that the take over of the land without payment of adequate compensation is “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”
He also averred that the late Alamieyeseigha used his position as governor to take over the land from the claimants and allocate it to himself in the name of Pescal Nigeria Limited.
In their preliminary objection, the defendants said: “In view of the facts of this case… this suit is statute-barred and thus this court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain, hear and determine same,” as the claimants waited for over 15 years before going to court.
But the claimants have vowed to pursue the matter until justice is done.