By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Owners of properties at the XK Apo Layout, Apo District of Abuja, have dragged the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris to court over alleged illegal seizure and occupation of their properties by the police.
The land owners, in a fundamental right enforcement suit they lodged before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, are demanding N50 million compensation from the IGP over alleged forceful, illegal seizure and occupation of their land by the Police.
Plaintiffs in the suit, Yusuf Goya and Aminu Isah, who filed the action on behalf of the “Incorporated Trustees of Apo XK Extension Residents Association”, want the court to order the Nigeria Police Force to vacate their properties consisting of over 200 plots of land in the XK Apo Layout.
In a13-paragraphed affidavit they attached in support of the suit, the plaintiffs told the court that following a judgment of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal delivered on August 13, 2014, in suit No. CA/A/462/2011, they were declared as bonafide owners of the properties that were seized by Police.
They told the court that the appellate court verdict was enforced on October 12, by evicting the judgment debtors, ENL Consortium Limited, from the property which was the subject of the dispute, and handed over to them.
According to the plaintiffs, “From October 12, 2017, the applicants and other owners of the properties occupied and resided in peace until the 28th of October, 2017 when the Police invaded the property, ejected the applicants and forcefully occupied it on behalf of ENL Consortium Ltd adjudged as defaulters by the Court of Appeal.
“That in addition to the forceful eviction, the Nigeria Police locked the gates that serve as the entry points to the land to prevent the applicants and other house owners from returning to their homes”.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Mr. Valentine Offia, maintained that action of the Police amounted to aiding the judgment debtors to contravene the express orders of the Court of Appeal.
Aside the IGP, other defendants in the suit are the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCDA), Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and ENL Consortium Limited.
However, in a swift reaction, the IGP, through his lawyer, Mr. David Igbodo, told the court that Police took posession of the property to prevent the break down of law and order.
The matter has been fixed for hearing on February 5, 2018.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs, in a peaceful protest they staged in Abuja over the weekend, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in their matter.
One of the land owners, Mrs Mary Sadoluwe, who spoke on behalf of the others, told newsmen that she operated a school in the layout until it was demolished along with other buildings in the XK Apo Layout, Apo District of Abuja.
According to her, residents and property owners in the XK Apo Layout, Apo District took the matter to court, which gave judgment in their favour.
She said the judgment of the trial court was challenged at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, which also delivered judgement in favour of the land owners.
“After two weeks of occupation of the property, we were driven out by the same police that helped us to enforce the judgment of the Court.
“We are calling on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is out to fight corruption to come to our aid by calling the police to order”, Mrs Sadoluwe added.
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