22.9 C
Abuja

Court halts Ayade’s allocation of magistrate court’s premises to lawmaker to build personal house

Advertisement

Related

Advertisement
Advertisement

THE Ogoja division of the High Court of Cross River State has granted an order restraining any person from entering the premises housing Magistrate Court 2 in Ogoja magisterial division pending the determination of the motion on notice filed by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

The Ogoja branch of the NBA approached the court to stop the sale of the premises to the leader of the Cross River State House of Assembly Peter Odey (PDP, Ogoja) after it became public knowledge that Governor Benedict Ayade had approved the land for him to build his personal house.

The case has been adjourned until March 18, 2021, for hearing.

How It Began?

Odey, who just completed his private residence at the Cross River State Water Board Limited premises in Calabar, wrote to Ayade for land to be allocated to him in Ogoja Local Government Area to build another private residence.

Ogoja is almost 300 kilometers north of the southern port city of Calabar.

By the virtue of his office as governor, Ayade is empowered by the Land Use Act of 1978 to hold land in trust for the people and issue certificates of occupancy (C of Os). Owing to this, he  approved and directed lands commissioner John Inyang to allocate land to Odey.

- Advertisement -

However, experts say the power of the governor is limited to the extent that he cannot revoke public property, in this case judiciary property, and allocate same for private interest or to a private individual.

Inyang, who is the brother in-law to the governor’s wife, is said to have showed Odey a plot directly behind the Ogoja Local Government Secretariat, next to the Ministry of Justice annex at the government residential area in Igoli.

The land is where Court 2 of the Ogoja Magisterial division, presided over by senior magistrate Eno Iyamba, is situated.

Magistrate Iyamba sits alongside chief magistrate Ekong Imona on rotational basis in Court 1 after years of neglect led to a decay of Court 2, which was worsened by a windstorm that blew off the roof.

As at press time, it remained unclear whether Ayade and Inyang’s decision to allocate Court 2 to Odey was deliberate. But sources said the magistrates quickly informed the chief judge Akon Ikpeme and the police who arrested workers who appeared on the site last Saturday.

Judiciary sources said the workers were to be arraigned earlier on Monday but were released following pressure from Odey, a claim he denied.

“That is not true. I never went to the police station. As I am talking to you now, I am in Calabar,” Odey said.

- Advertisement -

However, he did not deny that he directed work to start but claimed he had no knowledge the land allocated was court premises.

“I did not ask that a court be given to me. I only applied to the governor for a piece of land in Ogoja to build a house and the governor approved. The commissioner allocated that space to me. I did not even know it is a court. If there is contention around it, it is the commissioner that should address it. If anyone has any question, it should be directed to the commissioner,” he told CrossRiverWatch late Monday morning.

A foundation dug by workers employed by lawmaker Peter Odey near the dilapidated Court 2 of the Ogoja Magisterial division at GRA, Igoli, Ogoja

But, earlier on Monday morning, the workers had resumed, with the magistrates reporting to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, a security outfit charged with the responsibility of protecting sensitive public infrastructure. This led to the arrests of two people and the confiscation of some work materials.

Odey, on his part, said he had directed that work should stop. “I have directed that work should stop on the site until matters are sorted. I do not want a court. I just need a land to build a house. If anyone even came up to me to tell me there is an abandoned court there that needs repair, I would have contributed to fixing it for my people.”

As at press time, work had stopped at the premises.

Efforts to get lands commissioner Inyang to respond to the allegation proved futile as several calls to his mobile phone were neither answered nor returned.

Support the ICIR

We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

[molongui_author_box]

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

Advertisement

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support the ICIR

We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.

Advertisement

Recent

Buhari to confer national honours on Chimamanda Adichie, 436 others

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari will confer the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) national honour...

Nigeria will be safer before end of Buhari’s tenure – chief of staff

IBRAHIM Gambari, chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, has promised that Nigeria would...

Police arrest two for illegal possession of firearms in Lagos

THE Lagos State Police Command has arrested two persons for illegal possession of firearms...

El-Rufai condemns lynching of herders in Kaduna

KADUNA State governor Nasir El-Rufai has condemned the murder of two persons by a...

NDLEA arrests ex-footballer at Lagos airport for cocaine trafficking

THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says its operatives have arrested an ex-footballer,...
Advertisement

Most Read

Advertisement

Subscribe to our newsletter

Advertisement