By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – An Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, on Thursday, restrained the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Hon. Muhammad Bello, from further demolishing the residence of Abuja socialite, Prince Joseph Kpokpogri.
The order followed an ex-parte application that Kpokpogri who is a former lover of popular Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, filed through his team of lawyers led by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
Ozekhome, told the court that some persons from the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, had on May 14, invaded his client’s residence, “accompanied by a multitude of heavily armed policemen and bulldozers and excavators”, and commenced the demolition of his house, beginning with the boys quarters.
He told the court that agents of the FCDA threatened to return for total demolition of Kpokpogri’s house, even though they failed to give any reason for their action.
Consequently, Ozekhome, begged the court to intervene in the matter, in the interest of justice.
In his ruling, Justice Charles Agbaza, said he found merit in the ex-parte application and accordingly granted all the reliefs that were sought by the Applicant.
“I have carefully perused the affidavit of the Applicant and also listened to the counsel. This court finds merit in the application and it is satisfied that the Applicant has fulfilled all the conditions to warrant the exercise of discretion in his favour.
“The Application has merit and it is accordingly granted”, Justice Agbaza held.
He ordered the service of the court order on all the Defendants in the suit, even as he adjourned the matter till July 15 to hear the substantive case.
Aside from the FCT Minister, other Defendants in the suit are the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the Federal Capital Development Authority, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, Federal Housing Authority, and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Specifically, the court, issued an order of interim injunction restraining the Defendants either by themselves, agents, officials, privies, all those purporting to have derived title from them or other persons howsoever called from trespassing on or further trespassing on, demolishing, or further demolishing the property known as Plots 203 and 204, 27 Road, Gusape District, Apo Estate, Abuja, covered by letters of allocation issued by the Federal Housing Authority with Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.203 and Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.204 or from evicting the occupants of the said property or in any way interfering with the plaintiff’s exclusive right of possession of the said property pending the determination of the motion on notice.
In the substantive suit, Kpokpogri, is among other things, praying the court to order the Defendants to pay him aggravated and general damages to the tune of N2billion.
In an affidavit he personally deposed to, Kpokpogri, told the court that he
is the beneficial owner and the person in exclusive possession of all that property known as Plots 203 and 204, 27 Road, Apo Estate, Abuja, covered by letters of allocation issued by Federal Housing Authority with Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.203 and Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.204 respectfully.
He told the court that he is entitled to the statutory right of occupancy and exclusive possession of the said plots, which he said were lawfully acquired from two separate individuals, Barr. Muyideen Obans and Mrs Alaba Akindele, who were the original allottees of the lands from the (AGF) 6th Defendant.
“The letters of allocation of the land to the original allottees dated the 14th of January, 2015 with Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.203 and Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.204, issued by the Federal Housing Authority, Abuja are hereby Exhibits A and Al respectively.
Kpokpogri said upon completion of the multi million naira building and at the celebration events marking the opening of the building, many staff of the 5th Defendant were there to celebrate with him.
“I fully completed the building on the said property and parked into same since 2021 and I have been living in the said property with my family therein until the demolition of the building by the agents of the Defendant.
“The Defendants did not issue or serve any stop work order notifying me to stop the construction of the building even though the Defendants were aware of the construction of my building from the foundation to the completion; and were indeed supervising it.
“And no demolition notice was ever issued to me. The staff of the 6th Defendant duly supervised the construction of the Plaintiff’s building on the property from the beginning to the end without them raising any issue on the property.
“The property was never marked for demolition by the Defendants until one week to the demolition, precisely on the 7th of May, 2022; and no reason whatsoever was given for the marking of the building.
“After the building was marked for demolition, I immediately contacted the 6th Defendant who informed me that they were not privy to the marking of the building for demolition and that the marking must have come from the FCTA, FCDA and AMMC under the instruction of the 1st Defendant (FCT Mimister).
“The 5th Defendant (FHA) also assured me that there was nothing to worry about as there was nothing wrong with my property; and that my property was not among the properties that the Federal Housing Authority had issues with and over which it had have invited the owners for resolution.
“Before I could realize what was happening, precisely on the Saturday morning of 14 May, 2022, the agents of the 1st to 4th Defendants invaded my house vi et armis and accompanied by a multitude of heavily armed policemen and bulldozers and excavators and commenced demolition of my house, boys quarters and appurtenances thereto, at Plots 203 and 204, 27 Road, Apo Estate, Abuja.
“I was at home on that fateful morning of 14th May, 2022 when the agents of the 1st to 4th Defendants without any warning came with bulldozers and excavators to demolish my 6-Bedroom detached house etc.
“No order of court was first sought and obtained by the Defendants before they demolished my house, and no court of law ever made any order to that effect.
“The defendants just arbitrarily acted at their own whims and caprices with impunity and with reckless disregard for the harm, financial loss, mental and psychological trauma they were causing to me.
“The cruelty, savagery and hasty manner with which the demolition was carried out could only have been motivated by malice aforethought.
“Even though I was physically at home, I was not allowed to remove anything from my house in spite of my cries and pleas to that effect. All entreaties for them to give me a little time, like one hour, to remove things from the house fell on deaf ears.
“No reason or explanation for the demolition was given to me by the Defendants.
“The Defendants’ agents, watched indifferently, and indeed enjoyed
themselves, as my edifices were wantonly pulled down. Assuming that as hinted by Barr. Uche Chukwu Nduagu of the Federal Housing Authority, that the master plan was being altered and redesigned so as to cause a new road to pass through my house, at the present moment, there is no sign of any on-going construction of road anywhere in and around the Estate.
“Also, if there is any such altering or re-designing of the master plan, the 5th Defendant would have been involved (and it was not); and it is not only my house that would have been demolished, but other persons’ own.
“However, it was only my house that was hastily demolished by the Defendants”, Kpokpogri lamented in his affidavit.