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Court fixes date to deliver judgment in Abacha family’s legal battle against FG

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Sani Abacha UN

Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court in Abuja will on June 27 deliver judgment in a suit by the family of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha challenging the revocation of the property of the former Military Head of State in the Maitama District of Abuja.

Justice Lifu on Wednesday fixed the judgment date for the suit instituted by wife of the late General Abacha, Hajia Maryam Abacha and her eldest surviving son, Mohammed Sani Abacha.

Defendants in the suit are the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Federal Capital Development Authority FCDA, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Salamed Ventures Limited as 1st to 4th respectively.

The Judge fixed the date after fierce legal fireworks by Abacha family’s lawyer led by Dr Reuben Okpanachi Atabo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN and those of the defendants led by Dr James Ogwu Onoja, also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

Among others, the Abacha family represented by Maryam Abacha and Mohammed Sani Abacha prayed the Court to nullify and set aside the purported revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy of the property of the late General Sani Abacha located in the Maitama District.

The Certificate of Occupancy marked FCT/ABUKN 2478 covering plot 3119 issued on June 25, 1993 was said by the family to have been illegally and unlawfully revoked by the defendants.

In their statement of claims, the Abacha family said that the FCT under Nasir El-Rufai had instructed them to submit the Certificate of Occupancy in their possession for re-certification.

They claimed that the 2nd plaintiff, Mohammed Sani Abacha promptly complied with the directive by delivering the Certificate of Occupancy to the FCDA and acknowledgement copy issued to him.

While waiting for a new Certificate of Occupancy to be issued to them, plaintiffs asserted that Mohammed Abacha received a letter on February 3, 2006 notifying them that the Certificate of Occupancy had been revoked without any reason adduced in the letter.

Besides the failure to give any reason for the revocation, the Abacha family alleged that adequate compensation was not paid as required by law.

The family therefore asked the Judge to declare as unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void and of no effect, the purported revocation of the property.

They sought order of the Court setting aside the purported revocation and holding that their Certificate of Occupancy is valid and subsisting having been revoked without payment of adequate compensation.

According to them, the Certificate of Occupancy issued to the late Head of State was maliciously revoked without legal basis or justification

The plaintiffs asked for an order of injunction prohibiting the defendants from taking any further step on the disputed revocation.

Similarly, the prayed Justice Lifu to award N500M as damages to be paid to them by the four defendants.

However, the defendants in their separate counter affidavits and preliminary objections asked for outright dismissal of the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/463/2016.

Among other reasons, the defendants claimed that the suit at the time it was instituted had become statute barred having not been filed within time allowed by law.

Although, some of the defendants were not in court at Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Lifu invoked the rule of the Court in adopting their processes already filed.

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