Controversies trailing the demolition of 372 unit of houses inside Minanuel estate along the airport road, Abuja by the Federal Capital Territory Authority last month have continued to grow, as human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has asked the FCT Administration to apologise to the owner of the estate as well as compensate him.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who is the solicitor to the developer of the estate in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday said the demolition of the estate did not follow due process.
He argued that the FCT administration carried out the demolition without any valid order of court of competent jurisdiction.
The Director FCT Department of Development Control, Yahaya Yusuf whose office supervises demolition of illegal structures in Abuja and other issues relating to development had earlier said that the demolition at Minanuel estate was carried out with due process.
He told journalists that his department served appropriate notices to the developer at each stage of development of the estate which according to him were not heeded adding that the plots where the estate was situated was also not meant for that purpose.
But Falana who challenged the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed to produce all the evidences of notices served to the developer before the demolition exercise also refuted claims by the Minister that the developer was dully notified.
His words: “We wish to state categorically that the illegal demolition of our client’s properties did not follow due process as to the Stop Work Notice, Quit Notice and Demolition Notice were not served on our client prior the demolition as alleged by the Honourable Minister. We are therefore compelled to challenge the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to produce the evidence of the service of such notices on our client.
In a society where the rule of law prevails, self-help is not available to the executive or any arm of government. In view of the fact that such a conduct could breed anarchy and totalitarianism, and since anarchy and totalitarianism are antitheses to democracy, courts operating the rule of law, the life-blood of democracy, are under a constitutional duty to stand against such action.
The courts are available to accommodate all sorts of grievances that are justifiable in the law and section 6 of the constitution gives the courts power to adjudicate on matters between two or more parties.
In our democracy all the governments of this country as well as organizations and individuals must kowtow to the due process of the law and this they can vindicate by resorting to the court for redress in the event of any grievances”.
Also in a statement, the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed defended the demolition exercise saying “Kyami District where the affected structures were located falls within the Phase V of the Federal Capital City, Abuja and the law is clear”.
He added “the FCT development control discovered these illegal developments at their embryo stage and were swiftly told to stop work on August 20, 2011 with an instruction for the estate developer (Minanuel Estate) to present the title document for the plot, approved building plan, as well as comprehensive development plan which the developer disregarde
“It is worth mentioning that at the early stage, the FCTA made frantic efforts to discourage the continuation of these illegal developments by removing their sub-structures and covering the excavations done, but after a while, the developers went back to site and resumed illegal developments at a frenzied speed.”