A’Court stops FCDA ,2 developers from encroaching Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, FCT

  • Dismissed River Park Estate’s Case against Academy, others

The Court of Appeal Abuja Division on Tuesday, dismissed the appeal filed by Federal Capital Development Authority,FCDA, and two Estate developers over ownership of parcel of land at Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, Federal Capital Territory , Abuja.

Appellants: Federal Capital Development Authority, River Plate Estate (Jonah Capital Nigeria Ltd and House for Africa Nigeria Ltd), had brought the against judgment entered in favour of Blessed & Precious Children Academy Ltd, General Building Material Dealers Association Lugbe and Land Owners Association, Lugbe who were the rightful owner of Lugbe 1 Extension Layout .

In a unanimous judgment a three man panel of the justices of Appeal Court said that the appeal lacked merit. FCDA and the two developers had sought to set aside the judgement of Justice Peter Affen of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, delivered March 14, 2011, in respect of ownership of the dispute land .

Delivering the lead judgement Justice Bature Gafai, resolved the three issues raised for the resolution of the dispute against the appllents.

He upheld the decisions of the trial court delivered by Justice Affen, which restrained the Defendants whether acting by themselves or through their agents, servants, privies or otherwise howsoever from trespassing, entering upon or interfering with or otherwise disturbing the Plaintiffs’ enjoyment and possession of all the parcel of land known as Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, FCT, save as provided by law.

The argument of the appellants that the case was wrongly commenced by way of originating summons was dismissed by the appellate court.

Justice Gafai noted that “In the entire argument of the appellants, no single references was made to the facts deposed to by the respondents in their affidavit.None did the appellants denied that the respondents are not the rightful owners of the land,

“What the appellants did was to construct their own facts and depositions and did not bother to address the issue raised by the respondents in their affidavit.

“But sadly, they did not controvert facts in the affidavit of the respondents.
“I agree with the judgement of lower court that there was no specific denial by the appellants on the issues in dispute.

“When facts are deposed in an affidavit, you can only contradict them and not to construct new facts not pleaded at the trial court,, Justice Gafai noted.

Th Court of Appeal also held that the Appellants did not object to the method of commencement of the suit at the lower court, only to raise the issue at the appellate court.

“Nothing stops the appellants from applying to the lower court to set aside the suit since they felt it was wrongly commenced by way of originating summons, the court held.

The court observed that the FCT Minister was not made a party in the suit and therefore the issue of the proper person to issue certificate of occupancy in relation to the question raised by the appellants was of no moment.

The appellate court described the question as “Appellants stark irredeemable confusion that has characterized the second issue raised for determination.

“It does not merit any consideration and it is hereby dismissed, the court ordered.

Trial Court judge, Justice Affen had on March 14, 2011, also ordered that the grant or allocation made in favour of the 2nd Defendant (Jonah Capital Nigeria Ltd) as expressed or contained in the Letter of Grant dated 28/5/2007, the Development Lease Agreement dated 28/5/2007 and the Deed of Addendum dated 15/9/2009 were invalid.

The said documents, “is hereby declared invalid, null and void to the extent that it covers, concerns, touches upon or affects all that parcel of land known as Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, Lugbe.”

“More so, the court ordered that the 1st Defendant (FCDA) shall issue certificates of occupancy to the Plaintiffs upon payment of applicable processing fees; and act upon or process the applications made by or on behalf of the Plaintiffs for building plan or other approvals and matters incidental thereto in recognition of the Plaintiffs’ title to the plots granted to each of them in the parcel of land comprised in Lugbe 1 Extension Layout”.

“The Defendants jointly and severally shall pay to the Plaintiffs the sum of 5,000,000.00 (Five Million Naira) as general damages for trespassing upon the lands comprised in Lugbe 1 Extension Layout, Lugbe validly allocated to the Plaintiffs.

The court also assessed the cost of the suit at N20,000.00 in favour of the Plaintiffs and against the Defendants.
However, not satisfied with the judgement of Justice Affen, River Plate Estate through the 2nd and 3rd Defendants filed a notice of appeal dated April 13, 2011.

On March 5, 2012, the Appellants had filed an application for stay of execution of Justice Affen’s judgment, which was dismissed by the same court.