Land grab in GRA Phase III Port Harcourt and rule of law
I heard a bulldozer sound while sleeping this afternoon and was wondering what was amiss when I got a call from my neighbour. On coming out he showed me a set of papers that has just been distributed by a team of agents notifying us of a court judgement to the effect that they own the whole landed property in the area.
They had already destroyed some other properties fences and had allowed ours because they wanted to for warn us! We didn’t get to meet the team.
On reviewing the papers they brought it was apparent there were loopholes in the documents. First one paper was an appeal to the Chief of Staff Supreme headquarters Dodan barracks on 26th May 1984 by the said claimant.
In the appeal he asked the military government to prevail on one Nsirim to whom the rivers state government had paid the sum of 1.7 million Naira as compensation for the acquisition of the area, to pay his family their due share of N48950.
Fast forward to 18th April 2011, the Claimants lawyer writes to one of the owners of the property in the area asking to come to his office to discuss the subject Agenda “Land at GRA Phase III Behind School of Health, Technology, Rumueme Port Harcourt.
The next is a November 19th 2018 judgement order of a magistrate court in Rivers state with a case of the claimant versus “Unknown persons”. The magistrate awarded the cost of N50000 against this “unknown” person and ordered the following:
1. That the defendants deliver immediate vacant possession of land situated at Oro-Owo village off Abacha Road, GRA Phase III, Port Harcourt.
2. The defendants/unknown occupants are hereby directed to dismantle, remove all shanties (batchers) and vacate from the land/premises of the Claimant situate at Oro-Owo village, off Abacha Road, GRA Phase III Port Harcourt.
Next was a request by a court bailiff to commissioner of police in November 2018 for police cover to execute the judgement. December 5th 2018 Police commissioner responded and confirmed the validity of this order, recommending provision of the requested police cover since there was no appeal on the case. The police had also confirmed no appeal on the judgement!
Next is an approval by the commissioner of police on 8th May 2019 for the police cover to execute the judgment. And that is the last correspondence till this afternoon 20th August.
Salient questions to ask;
- Why did it take over a year to have the police come execute the order?
- How come a magistrate gave judgement against “unknown persons” including monetary rewards against same?
- Was any attempt made by the court to contact the “unknown persons” which obviously includes the Rivers state government that had paid the compensation for the land prior the claimants approach to the Chief of Staff Supreme headquarters Dodan barracks on 26th May 1984.
- Can judgement be delivered on such a case without hearing from the “unknown persons”?
- Can the Claimant claim he does not know any party to the case even when he had as far back as 2011 informed his Lawyer to contact an owner of one of the properties in the area about the same case?
- Can the Magistrate claim he or she cannot deduce by the papers presented to him (assuming the request to the Chief of Staff Supreme headquarters Dodan barracks was part of those paper) that the Rivers State government should be a party to the case
- Is it not apparent that the Claimant lied to the court and obtained judgement fraudulently?
- The Claimants approach to the Chief of Staff Supreme headquarters Dodan barracks (for Nsirim to give him the part of the 1.7 million naira due him) suggests he had accepted the acquisition of the land by the rivers state government. Is this not the case?
- Does the Claimant have any locus standing to claim any part of GRA having acknowledged Nsirim has his portion of the compensation from the State government?
- Does this not amount to trespass on other people’s property?
I think the Nigerian Judicial council (NJC) should investigate this court order as soon as possible. The Rivers state government should push for this. Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and things cannot be done arbitrarily as it has the potential of de-marketing both the state and the country.
I used to hear that landlords indulge in these kinds of gimmicks; go behind tenants and approach a court, obtained judgements in order to send tenants out of their buildings. I never imagined this kind of thing happens even against a whole government! Wonders shall indeed never cease to happen in this country!
See the attached documents: