By Tordue Salem
ABUJA â€” The collegialÂ battle betwen a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Eseme Sunday Eyiboh and his Senate counterpart, Sen. Muhammed Gusau, over the possession of a five-bedroom duplex in the Federal Capital Territory, has taken a twist, as Mr. Eyibohâ€™s team of lawyers have filed a case of vandalism and assault at an Abuja High Court against Mr.Gusau.
The lawmaker has sued his colleague in the Senate for “forcefully throwing out” his movable properties from his “house” located at 7, Yamoye Close, Area 11, Abuja, through a writ of possession issued by an Upper Shariah Court in Jigawa State.
The ruling by the Shariah Court in Hadejia, Jigawa State was allegedly delivered in â€œHausa Languageâ€, but translated into English and served on the High Court in Abuja, which in turn issued a judgment on June 3, a day after an order was sought for the eviction ofÂ Eyiboh.
At exactly 8:00am last Friday, over 20 armed policemen and others, led by court bailiffs stormed the private residence of House of Representatives spokesman, Eyiboh, and ejected his wife and three children.
Accompanied by a group of men, the evictors wrenched off the air-conditioners, pulled out every piece of the lawmakerâ€™s property from the five-bedroom duplex, with a two-room guest house chalet and two boysâ€™ quarters located at Cadastral Zone, A03 Garki Abuja.
Eyibohâ€™s family â€” wife, daughter and two teenage sons â€” was stranded outside as they watched over a heap of their belongings, dumped outside the House.
The Court Bailiff, Barr. Hassan Muhammed told journalists who covered the incidence that they acted on the order of the Federal Capital Territory High Court issued on June 3, 2010.
The order of eviction was issued on June 3, 2010, after the Abuja Court acted on aÂ writ of possession (of the said residence) obtained by the judgment creditor, Estate of the late Sheikh Mujaddadi and a serving Senator Hassan Muhamed Gusau.
Eyibohâ€™s name was not however listed on the order, neither was he joined in the case in Jigawa, but the order, Mr. Muhammed said must be executed in compliance with the Court directive.
â€œThe High Court of the Federal Capital Territory gave us the order to come and remove the things from the House. Nothing says we should do otherwise, our own is to do our jobâ€, the Court bailiff, said.
Besides sweeping the apartment clean of its property, the evictors pulled out a carton_full of electric sockets, ripped off the electricity wiring and security monitors that were screwed to the wall, but failed after 5 attempts to tow out a Toyota 18_seater bus with the inscription â€œThe Initiativesâ€ on it.
The driver of the white towing Land Rover van, with a Kano State number plate AG 40 TWD and a yellow Lagos State Ministry of Transportation sticker by the driverâ€™s side, almost crushed the feet of the cameramen of Degue Broadcasting Nigeria (DBN) and Africa Independent Television (AIT) in a desperate effort to drag out the 18_seater bus.
â€œThe bus must be removed, because the court ordered that every property in the House must be removedâ€ one of the accompanying persons, stressed.
The suit number of the Order is FCT/HC/M/3951/2010/, while it reads in part that the : â€œApplication (was) made to the registrar for this warrant at 10minutes, past the Hour of 11 in the fore noon of day last mentioned(June3)â€
According to the writ of eviction, the debtor (property occupant), would also pay for the cost of the eviction.
â€œAnd these are therefore to require and order you forthwith to make and levy the amount due to the judgment together with the costs of this warrant and costs of executing the same by distress and sale of the goods and chattels of the judgment debtor whatsoever they may be found within the district of this Court (except) the wearing apparels and bedding of him and his family and the tools and implements of this made to the value of ten naira also be seizing and taking any money, bank notes, cheques, bills of exchange, promissory notes, bonds and other securities for money belonging to the judgment Debtor which there may be found or such part or so much thereof as may be sufficient to satisfy this execution, and to bring what you shall have levied into Court and to make return of what you have done under this warrant immediately upon execution thereofâ€.
But in his response, Mr. Eyiboh said the execution of the order was a clear violation of the of law, as his property was vandalized, even when he was not forewarned.
He insisted that the House remained his as long as he was in possession of the Certificate of Occupancy and other papers on the said property.
He said the vandalism of his property in the effort to sack him and his family, must attract the attention of the security services in the Country and the Judiciary.
â€œThe break into my property in absentia and without adequate warning, is a challenge to the security agencies in the Country and the Judiciary. In the first place, my name was not joined in the judgment at the Shariah Court , and I was not joined in the case at the Abuja High Court, so why must they come and vandalize my House?
â€œHow can a High Court in Abuja implement a judgment of a Sharia Court in Jigawa State ?, he queried.
Earlier, on May 4, 2009, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory had declared the Zamfara ruling that saw to the supposed eviction null and void.
The Court presided over by Justice Peter O. Affen, in a 33_page deecision, ruled in part that â€œA declaration that the writ of possession issued by the Upper Sharias Court, Hadejia, Jigawa State against immovable property situated in the Federal Capital Territory cannot be executed in and within the Federal Capital Territoryâ€.
The lawmaker had earlier filed a petition with the Commissioner of Police, Legal in Abuja, and copied the Director General of State Security Services, SSS on the matter.
Counsel to the lawmaker, Mr. Friday Onoja, said his client (Eyiboh) â€œhas all the papers on the propertyâ€ and the order of eviction is illegal, but that at the appropriate time, the order will be vacated.
Three members of the House of Representatives, Reps Kamil Akinlabi(PDP/Oyo), Lanre Agoro(PDP/Oyo) and Patty Etete(PDP/Akwa_Ibom) who were at the residence at the time of â€˜evictionâ€™ all expressed surprise on noticing thatÂ the order served did not bear Eyibohâ€™s name, but the former owner of the property, Mr. Mujaddadi and his son.
Mr. Etete who spoke with journalists on the issue, regretted that the eviction was done in defiance of a counter_order by another Federal High Court.
â€œThis is not right as far as I am concerned, you cannot come on the judgment of a Sharia Court , and throw somebodyâ€™s property outside. I am not a lawyer, but I know that a judgment delivered by a Shariah Court cannot be implemented by a High Court in Abuja .
â€œAlso remember that a counter_order by another Court against the Order of eviction, so why are they still going ahead with this orderâ€, he said.
But Sen. Gusau in his response, told journalists that â€œi am not interested in joining issues with him(Eyiboh), the Court has alreadsy made its decisionâ€.
He added that â€œThe property belongs to me, i paid for it and i have the papers with me, he(Eyiboh) should go to Courtâ€.