Firstl lady Dame Paticence Jonathan & Ex-First lady Mrs Turai Yar’adua in land tussle
Federal Government on Tuesday told an Abuja High Court of its decision to settle out of court a legal tussle between President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, Patience, and widow of late President Umaru Ya’Adua, Turai, over a choice plot of land at Cadastral Zone in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Documents before the court showed that the disputed land had been duly allocated to Turai’s non govermental organisation (NGO), Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WYEF), by the FCT Minister with the Right of Occupancy issued to it.
The Registered Trustees of WYEF had reportedly applied and were granted an allocation of Plot 1347 Cadastral Zone, after paying N184,529,438 for statutory Right of Occupancy.
Under the terms of grant, the NGO was given three years to develop the property based on approved building plans.
After payments of the various levies, the plaintiff (WYEF) paid additional N76,936,210 as building plan fees after which the grant and approval were given in line with the master plan for Abuja.
Thereafter, the plaintiff appointed and mobilised a building firm, Al-Cooks Nigeria Limited, to site to develop the property at the cost of N13,516,013,797.58.
On November 1, 2011, the Federal Capital Territory Administration sent an additional bill of N18,529,438 being the balance of the various charges under the grant, which the plaintiff paid the next day.
Shortly after these transactions, however, the FCT Minister issued a notice of revocation of the said property which it allocated to the plaintiff for the purpose of building of public institution (training/vocational centre).
The said letter of revocation was backdated with effect from October 27, 2011.
Immediately after the revocation letter was issued, the FCT Minister, Bala Muhammed, reportedly re-allocated the plot to another organisation, African First Ladies Peace Centre, which the current First Lady, Patience Jonathan, is believed to be a sponsor.
It was at this stage that Turai’s NGO went to court to challenge the actions of the minister with respect to the revocation letter.
Justice Peter Affen then granted a restraining order barring the minister and the administration of the FCT, the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) and the Attorney General of the Federation from carrying out further activities at the site.
However, while the order of the court was still subsisting, the defendants in defiance of the said order mobilised people to site to begin construction work.
Faced with this, counsel to WYEF, Innocent Lagi, went back to court and initiated contempt proceedings against the defendants.
But in an attempt to frustrate the hearing of the contempt proceedings, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation last Friday approached the court with a motion seeking to vacate the said order.
Justice Affen, however, asked the AGF to put the necessary parties on notice and later adjourned the matter for yesterday.
When the matter was called, counsel from the chambers of the AGF, Baba Sa’idu, told the court of government’s willingness to settle the matter amicably out of court.
He added that already, his client had reached out to all the counsel to the parties before the court.
His position was corroborated by counsel to the FCT Minister, the FCT Administration and AGIS, Felix Ibanga, just as the plaintiff’s counsel, Lagi, also confirmed the development.
Meanwhile, the case has been adjourned till September 24 for report of the settlement deal.