By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
After 5 years of legal battle to secure benefits of monetisation policy of the Federal government, 49 staff of Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU), Zaria have rejoiced as the Appeal Court in Kaduna ordered fresh hearing of their case at the Federal High Court.
The workers had submitted bids and made payment through bank drafts for purchase, under monetisation policy, the respective houses they were occupying. The Federal High Court had earlier dismissed the case, “for being statute barred”
The Appellate Court judgement dated June 2, 2020, under Justice Oludotun A. Adefope-Okojie did not only order for fresh hearing, but also ordered for reassignment of the case to another Judge at the Federal High Court.
According to Justice Adefope-Okojie, “The decision of the lower Court dismissing this suit is set aside. This case is remitted to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another Judge of the Kaduna judicial Division, for hearing on the merits. The parties shall bear thier respective costs”.
The ABU workers had approached the Federal High Court, sitting in Kaduna in 2015 to retain their respective houses/staff quarters based on the monetisation policy introduced in 2005, but the Federal High Court under Justice Emeka Nwite had on September 26, 2016 dismissed the case, “for being statute barred as being contrary to section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act, the first respondent being a Public Officer”.
However, dissatisfied by the decision of the Federal High Court, the workers through their Counsel, Mr. Reuben O.Atabo, approached the Appeal Court on December 20, 2016 for the determination of the issues.
Among the reliefs sought by the Counsel to the staff of ABU before the Appellant Court included, “A declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to monetisation policy of the Federal government, a declaration that the plaintiffs being in occupation of their respective houses in Zaria, Kaduna State, allocated to them by government of Nigeria policy on monetisation and are entitled to bid for the purchase of the houses”.
Mr. Atabo said that, “sometimes in 2005, the Federal government led by President Olusegun Obasanjo published an official Gazette, approving the guidelines for the sale of federal government houses to sitting tenants through a bidding process.
“In compliance, the Appellants submitted their bids, with a payment by bank draft of N10,000.00.”
“After waiting for several months, with no response, they wrote letters to the Secretary, Presidential Implementation Committee on various dates between March 15, 2010 to May 4, 2011.
“They also wrote a letter dated June 2, 2011 to the Secretary, Federal government to ensure that the 1st Respondents complied with the monetisation policy.
“Their letters were however not responded to, neither was their money refunded. All efforts to settle the issue administratively and amicably failed, in consequence of which they took out a Writ of Summons on 25th day of February, 2015 claiming reliefs”
Mr. Atabo had obtained interlocutory injunction from the Federal High Court, in the Kaduna judicial Division, “Restraining the defendants/Respondents either by themselves, agents, privies, servants, workmen and any person howsoever called acting on their behalf from forcefully and compulsorily taking over, developing or tampering with the plaintiffs/Applicants’ property lying and situated at various locations in Zaria which are the subject matter of this suit, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit”.