An Abuja High Court will today rule on whether to suspend a motion that temporarily halts work on a prime plot in Abuja to which both the First Lady Patience Jonathan and former First Lady Turai Yar’adua are staking a claim.
The land in disputed –Plot No. 1347 Cadastral Zone, AOO Central Business District, Abuja, FCT measures 1.84 hectares. It was allocated to Mrs. Yar’Adua’s Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WAYEF) in February 2010. On March 19, 2010 the WAYEF paid the sum of N166m to the FCTA as right of occupancy fees.
Again, on July 29, 2011 the WAYEF paid another sum of N76.9m as settlement fees for building plans. However, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Bala Mohammed in November 2011 revoked WAYEF’s title right to the land and reallocated same to Mrs. Jonathan-led African First Ladies’ Peace Mission.
Mr Mohammed said he revoked the allocation in overriding public interest with Mrs Jonathan saying she wants to build the secretariat of the First Ladies Peace Mission on the land. On November 23, 2011, Mrs. Yar’Adua’s WAYEF sued the FCT minister, challenging the revocation.
On March 5, 2012 , Justice Peter Affen of the Abuja High Court granted an injunction restraining the Minister or any other person from affecting the title or interest of WAYEF over the plot of land pending the determination of the case. But in spite of the ongoing litigation and petitions to the police by Mrs. Yar’dua, Mrs Jonathan is now set to effectively take possession of the land.
To that effect, Mrs Jonathan has approached the court, through the Federal Ministry of Justice, asking it to discharge the restraining order on the land or make an order of stay of execution of the interlocutory injunction it earlier granted Mrs. Yar’Adua’s NGO. In an affidavit in support of the motion, Mrs Jonathan, through Ballah Ali, a litigation officer in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, informed the court that she would be hosting African first ladies from July 24 to 27 and that a foundation laying ceremony would be performed on the land during the period.
“The image of Nigeria may be adversely affected in the community of Nations if this injunction is not vacated and the foundation ceremony is truncated,” the affidavit said.