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Contempt: Court threatens to jail Nigerian Minister

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A High Court sitting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has threatened to commit the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, to prison for alleged contempt of a court order.

Also threatened with the same order is the Director of Federal Capital Development Authority, Mukhtar Galadima, who was also said to have violated the same court order.

The suit No: FCT /HC/1718/2019 was instituted by the claimant, Mac-Jeam International Enterprises Ltd against: Toub Associates Ltd and Theophilus Ubani as Defendants/Applicants as well as against the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (Nyesom Ezenwo Wike) and Federal Capital Development Authority (represented by Murhktar U. Galadima) as Defendants/Contemnors.

In the Form 48 of the Court paper titled: Notice of the consequences of disobedience to Court pursuant to Order IX, Rule13 of the Sheriffs and Civil process Act, CAP. 551 LFN, 2004, issued on April 1, 2024, the defendants were warned to obey the court order.

Similarly, in the Form 49, the defendants were also put on notice that they will have to show cause why Order of attachment should not be made, brought pursuant to Order IX, Rule 13 of the Sheriffs and Civil process Act, CAP. 551 LFN, 2024.

As the case comes up on Wednesday for hearing, the Defendants/Applicants are expected to apply to the Court for; “An ORDER for committal to prison of the 3rd and 4th Defendants/Contemnors represented by Nyesom Wike and Murkhtar U. Galadima for having disobeyed the Order of this Court made on the 18th day of October, 2023 enjoining and restraining them from tampering with the res of this matter pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

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It reads; “Take NOTICE that unless you obey the directions contained in the order of this Honourable Court made on the 18th October, 2023, you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”

It could recalled that few weeks after an estate worth about N10 billion was demolished in Abuja by the Federal Capital Territory, another estate worth N3 billion was on Friday demolished allegedly on the orders of Wike in Maitama Hills, Mpape in Bwari Area Council of Abuja.

The taskforce sent to demolish the estate refused journalists to have access to the estate, stating clearly it was directives from the FCT authorities.

However, speaking to journalists, the manager of the estate that was under construction, Eze Innocent Okpara said they started developing the estate around 2019 and it was at different stages of development before the demolition exercise.

“I am surprised that the structure is in being demolished. It is Woodcrest Estate and they have refused us entrance. We wanted to see what they were actually doing but they wouldn’t allow us to see what is happening but from what I am seeing from here the structure we completed is on ground.

“They have demolished it, the carcasses everything is down and they will not allow us to remove anything. We have household materials we have chairs inside one of the unit.

“The estate is 11000square meters in Mpape 2, Maitama hills.”

Asked if there was any court case on the property, Okpara said, “Yes, there was a court case before this demolition. They came to mark the structure sometimes back, we referred them to our lawyer that whatever they needed are pasted on the wall and the case is still on and to our greatest surprise they are coming for demolition today.”

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Speaking to the counsel of the developer, Tony Ogbulafor, he said the Nigeria Bar Association should call the Minister of FCT to order.

According to him, Wike could not claim to be a lawyer and he is embarrassing the judiciary.

Ogbulafor said the case is in court and was adjourned to May 15, 2024 as the claimant was absent in court on November 15, 2023.

According to him, Hon. Justice A.S. Adepoju Court No.13, Gwagwalada Judicial Division had ruled on October 18, 2023 that the status quo should remain.

Speaking to journalists, Ogbulafor said, “We pasted the approval of the building plan on the wall, for them to see that something like that is there, but it didn’t stop them.

“I got a call from the Managing director of Toub Associate, it was alleged that some demolition was going on and he called me to the estate to see what was going on.

“On getting here policemen and NSCDC men numbering over 100 blocked us from entry saying they are a joint tax force they don’t allow anybody to come close that we can only come in when the demolition is completed. Because they are wielding gun we have to pipe low.”

Asked if there was any case in court, he said, “One Majin Nigeria Limited took Toub associates, the minister of FCT and FG to court alleging ownership of the land and we are in court, the court ordered that nobody should do anything on the land until the case is determined before we got here this morning.

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“Along the line we have provided all the documents for the land, the allocation letters and everything to show the ownership of the land. And that has not been controverted even by Majin.

“Court 13 Gwagwalada gave the order presided over by Justice Adepoju, and based on the order of the Court which said we should not do anything that is why we stopped, if not, we would have completed the estate but the court order said we should stop, pending the determination of the matter and we were holding action.”

Ogbulafor also expressed his confidence that the court will dispense justice no matter how long it lasts.


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