Court fixes June 27 for judgement on Abacha’s family suit challenging revocation of land in Abuja

The suit The Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed 27 June 2024 for judgment in a suit by the family of the late Nigerian military dictator, General Sani Abacha, challenging the revocation of his property in the Maitama District of Abuja.

Penpushing reports that the judge, Justice Peter Lifu, on Wednesday fixed the date for judgement after the lawyer to the family of the deceased, Reuben Atabo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and those of the defendants led by James Onoja, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), adopted their processes and argued their case for and against the suit.

The late Abacha widow Maryam Abacha had filed the suit alongside her eldest surviving son, Mohammed Sani Abacha seeks to reclaim a developed piece of land in a choice area of Abuja that was revoked from the Abacha family by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) authorities.

Penpushing further reports that the defendants in the suit include Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT); Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA); President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Salamed Ventures Limited as 1st to 4th respectively.

The family of the later military ruler prayed the court to set aside the purported revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy (CoO) marked FCT/ABUKN 2478 covering Plot 3119, issued on June 25, 1993, argued to be the property of the deceased located in the Maitama District said to have been illegally and unlawfully revoked by the defendants.

Penpushing also reports that the Abacha family in the statement of claim said that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), under Nasir El-Rufai, had instructed them to submit the Certificate of Occupancy in their possession for re-certification.

The family led by the widow claimed that the 2nd plaintiff, Mohammed Sani Abacha, promptly complied with the directive by delivering the Certificate of Occupancy to the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and acknowledgement copy issued to him.

Penpushing reports that the family explained that while waiting for a new Certificate of Occupancy to be issued to them, Mohammed Abacha said he received a letter on February 3,2006, notifying them that the Certificate of Occupancy had been revoked without any reason adduced in the letter.

The Abacha family emphasized and alleged that besides the failure to give any reason for the revocation, adequate compensation was not paid as required by law, and therefore prayed the court to declare as unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void and of no effect, the purported revocation of the property.

Penpushing further reports that the Abachas sought an order of the court setting aside the purported revocation and holding that their Certificate of Occupancy is valid and subsisting having been revoked without payment of adequate compensation.

The family equally argued that, the Certificate of Occupancy issued to the late Head of State was maliciously revoked without legal basis or justification, and the plaintiffs asked for an order of injunction prohibiting the defendants from taking any further step on the disputed revocation.

Penpushing also reports that in the same vein, the family prayed to award N500 million as damages to be paid to them by the four defendants, however, the defendants in their separate counter-affidavits and preliminary objections, asked for outright dismissal of the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2016.

The defendants claimed that the suit at the time it was instituted had become statute barred having not been filed within time allowed by law, among other arguments, however, some of the defendants were not in court at Wednesday’s proceedings, while the judge invoked the rule of the court in adopting their processes already filed.

Penpushing reports that Abacha seized power from the Interim National Government (ING) of Ernest Shonekan on 17 November 1993 and ruled Nigeria with iron- fist until he died at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on June 8, 1998.

The patriarch of the Abacha family, was a constant feature during the dark era of military regimes between the 1980s and 1990s, variously serving as the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff and the Minister of Defence, until he became the Head of State in 1993.

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