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Apo residents petition CJN over police occupation of land

Residents of Apo have petitioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, over the conduct of police in flouting a judgment of the Court of Appeal. 

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The XK Apo District Residents Association, through their lawyer Offiah Valetine, have accused the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, of aiding and abetting a former deputy governor of Osun State, and his company, ENL Consortium Limited, in dispossessing them of their property.

The petitioners are alleging that the police have occuppied  their properties at XK Layout, Apo District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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The layout which comprises of 78 hectares of land accommodates over 600 families. 

An Abuja Chief Magistrate Court had issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the former deputy governor and   officials of his company for disobedience of a judgment of court, but residents pointed accusing fingers on Mr. Idris for refusing to carry out the order of the court.

Trouble started for the residents in 2009 when the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory attempted to dispossess the residents of their land over which they claimed to have already been given titles by the same government. 

Several of the residents had already developed their properties and were living on it when they  woke up one day in April 2009, and saw policemen move in with caterpillars brought by the ENI Consortium, claiming that government had approved the land to be used to build an estate. They were chased out and their buildings demolished.

The residents approached an Abuja High Court and got an interlocutory injunction issued by Justice O.O Goodluck that restrained the minister from forcing them out of the land pending the determination of the suit. 

Joined in the suit with the minister are the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Federal Housing Authority (FHA), the Attorney General of the Federation and ENL Consortium Limited.

The suit went into trial and Justice Goodluck delivered judgment on May 27, 2011. The trial judge ruled that only those who had accepted the offer of the plaintiffs through payment could have access to their land.

Not satisfied, the residents approached the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the lower court judgment was a miscarriage of justice.  On May 18, 2017, after going to trial, a panel of Justices of the Appellate Court, led by Justice Mohammed Mustapha, who read the lead judgment upturned the decision of the lower court, giving possession to the residents. 

Other Justices, Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, and Justice Tani Yusuf Hassan concurred with the judgment.

The police eventually agreed to assist court bailiffs to execute the judgment, and restore possession to the plaintiffs via a letter dated September 27, 2017. 

But the police from Asokoro District led by the DPO, invaded the land again, chased out the residents, and padlocked the gates and deployed armed policemen there. 

 

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