By Innocent Anaba
Some children of First Republic Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, have asked the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos to order the demolition of a building, allegedly hurriedly erected on 1, Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, property of their late father by a firm, Grovecrest Properties Ltd.
The companies of the late politician and some of his children, in the application, are asking the appellate court to order the 2nd defendant (Grovecrest Properties), to pull down all the building and structure erected on the said 1, Milverton Road, Ikoyi, which they claimed were hurriedly erected after the commencement of this suit.
The appellants are, in the alternative, praying the court to restrain Grovecrest Properties, whether by itself, servants, agents, privies and or representatives from continuing to develop,Â build or construct any building or structure on all the property situated at 1, Milverton Road, Ikoyi or moving into occupation of the said property, pending the hearing and determination of their appeal.
The court has adjourned till June 17, for hearing of the application.
According to the appellants, the property was preserved in its original state and meant to house the Okotie-Eboh Foundation, an agency to be established by the late Ministerâ€™s family to preserve his name.
The appellants predicated their application on the ground that it was unjust for the court to allow the respondents, particularly Grovecrest, to sustain its reconstruction works while a suit challenging the purported sale of the property and an appeal on the suit were pending.
Joe, in a supporting affidavit, averredÂ that the property was initially let out to Globestar Engineering Company Nigeria Limited in 1997 by him, on behalf of the Afro Nigeria Export Import properties and that prior to the expiration of Globestarâ€™s five_year tenure, it sub_let it to another company, FSB International Bank (which later merged with Fidelity Bank) in 1999, while Fidelity bank continued the tenancy and paid rent in advance up to July last year.
According to him, they were surprisedÂ to discover in 2007, prior to the expiration of Fidelity Bankâ€™s tenancy, that the structure had been demolished and on enquiry, Fidelity allegedly claimed to have yielded possession of the property to Grovecrest upon its (Grovecrsetâ€™s) exhibition of a court judgment and despite that Fidelity was, by their tenancy agreement, required to yield possession of the vacant property to its actual owner _ Afro Nigeria Properties, it has been unable to produce the said court judgment upon which it allegedly vacated the property.
The appellants accused Grovecrest of alleged fraudulent purchase of the property at about N600 million, contending that the property was only undervalued, but was bought by the company despite a pending caveat emptor.