BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA — The cold war between two Nigerian “first-ladies”, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan and wife of late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, Turai, over a juicy plot of land in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, reached its feverish heights Thursday.
Their uncanny rivalry, which has exposed the country to public ridicule within the international circles, deepened after an Abuja High Court, presided over by Justice Peter Affen, declared that the disputed land where the incumbent “first-lady”, Patience, recently hosted her counterparts from other African countries, belonged to Turai Yar’Adua.
In his judgment, Justice Affen maintained that the Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, acted illegally when he revoked the Certificate of Occupancy for the land originally allocated to a Non-Governmental Organization, NGO, “The Registered Trustee of Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation, WYEF”, a pet project initiated by Turai, and re-awarded it to Patience Jonathan for the construction of a secretariat of the “First Ladies Peace Mission.”
According to the judge, “the said plot No. 1347 Cadastral Zone AOO, Central Business District, Abuja, was originally allocated to the plaintiff (WYEF) for the building of a public institution, a vocational training center, in-line with the provision of section 28(1) of the Land Use Act.
“The vocational center is for public purpose and the title deed of the disputed land cannot just be revoked on the premise of over-riding public interest.
“Public interest is not limited to the purpose of government alone, the purported revocation stands precariously, if at all it stands.
“Any revocation in the exercise of the power of the Minister under the Land Use Act must be within the confine or tenets of section 28(1) of the Act. More so, the defendant woefully failed to adduce evidence to support its claims of overriding public interest.
“Consequently, I uphold the submissions of the plaintiffs counsel and declare that the said revocation was done in bad-faith and is hereby nullified,” the judge added.
Reacting through her lawyer, Mrs Ima Okpongete , Mrs. Jonathan, contended that the presiding judge erred in law by returning the land to the former first lady, contrary to overriding public interest.
She said: “We are not satisfied with this judgment and we are going to appeal against it immediately.”
It will be recalled that in a bid to save the country from embarrassment over the lingering land dispute, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, earlier begged the court to allow him broker an out-of-court settlement deal for the warring “first-ladies”.