Patience Jonathan, Turai Yar’Adua to settle land dispute out of court

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court Sitting in Bwari Area Council has ordered Hajia Turai Yar’Adua, wife of late President Yar’Adua and the current First lady, Dame Patience Jonathan to report back to court over the out of court settlement on a disputed 1.84 hectares of land in Abuja.

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister Of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, had informed the presiding judge of the court,  Justice Peter Affen, that the Federal Government has made arrangement for an out of court settlement.

The disputed land, plot no. 1347 Cadastral Zone AOO, Central Business District, Abuja, FCT was initially allocated to Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WAYEF) while Mrs. Yar’adua was First Lady.

The Minister of the FCT, Bala Mohammed revoked the allocation for what he described as “overriding public interest” and reallocated the same land to Mrs. Jonathan for the building of African First Lady Peace Mission Headquarters on the 2nd of November, 2011.

Mrs. Yar’Adua complained that the land allocated to WAYEF on 19 February 2010 was being trespassed upon by Mrs. Jonathan and got a court order dated 5 March 2012 restraining the defendants from affecting WAYEF title and interest over the land.

Those joined as co-defendants in the suit are the Minister of FCT, Federal Capital Administration and the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS).

Reacting to the plea for an out of court settlement, Mr. Lagi Innocent, Counsel to WAYEF confirmed to the court that his clients have been approached for an out of court settlement but added that this was not the first time the defendants were making such moves.

He mentioned that WAYEF had already began the process of notice of committal to prison on the defendants by filing forms 48 and 49 adding that it was unfortunate that people could no longer trust the government in the country.

While adjourning the case to 24 September 2012 for report of settlement, Justice Affen “advised parties that the nature of the case is such that if parties can reach amicable settlement it would be better for all sides.”

 

Witness tells court how El-Rufai allocated land to himself, family and companies

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday told an Abuja High Court that a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai and two of his officials unilaterally revoked some juicy plots of land and allocated same to themselves, their relatives and their companies.

Sunday Idowu, a former operative of the EFCC made the disclosure while being led in evidence by the commission’s lawyer, Adebayo Adelodun, in continuation of trial of the former minister who is facing an eight-count of abuse of office.

The two other accused persons are the Director General, Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS), Atine Jubrin and former General Manager, AGIS Ismail Iro.

Mr Idowu, an Inspector of Police gave detailed steps taken by his investigative team in unravelling facts behind the accusations against the accused persons.

“We interacted with interested parties notably Abuja Geographical Information Services (AGIS), Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) among others who gave us insight into what actually happened,” the police officer said.

He said that his team identified an official memo written by a senior official of FCDA advising against the irregular conversion of the plots.

“At AGIS, investigation revealed that plots 1201 and 3352 which were originally allocated to PHCN and NIPOST were revoked and then re-allocated to 9 private individuals including two wives of the former minister, daughter of former President Obasanjo, Iyabo Obasanjo–Bello, a serving senator, Philip Aduda and the 2nd and 3rd accused persons,” Mr Idowu said.

The witness further told the court that his team discovered from the Corporate Affairs Commission that Misters El-Rufai, and Iro are directors in the three companies which benefited from the re-allocation, namely: System Property Development Company, SPDC, Express Procurement Ltd and Pure Environment Services.

“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that one of the irregularly converted plots, allocated to one of the wives of the 1st accused person ,with new plot number 337 was also used by him as one of the properties declared as his own in his Asset Declaration Form with the Code of Conduct Bureau,” the police investigator said.

A former Executive Secretary with the FCDA, Sani Alhassan, told the court that after a meeting with the management of PHCN it was discovered that the earlier revocation was no more necessary. He said a memo was written to the former minister advising him to revert to status quo.

The case was adjourned to 25 April for further hearing.

Mr El-Rufai and his co-accused persons were first arraigned on an amended eight-count on Thursday 7 April 2011. Their arraignment followed a petition to EFCC, detailing allegations of abuse of office against the former minister on how he misappropriated government land which he allocated to his friends and family members, in flagrant breach of the Abuja Master plan.