ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Abuja
An Abuja High Court has ordered a developer, White Diamond Property Development Company, to remove 7 units of five-bedroom duplex worth N350 million each from a piece of land in Abuja
The court also awarded the sum of N10million as damages against the developer of the property, as penalty for encroaching on a piece of land belonging to Trade Wheels Limited.
Justice Peter Kekemeke ordered the developer to remove all structures or building erected on the land, as well as building materials, sands and gravels at its expense.
In a 22-page judgment delivered on the 15th June 2017, Justice Kekemeke held that Trade Wheels has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant encroached on its land.
“It is my view that the plaintiff has proved that the defendant trespasses in its land, and I so hold,” he said.
The court consequently issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining White Diamonds and its agent from further encroaching on the land or in any way or manner interfere with the statutory rights and interests over the said property.
Counsel to the defendant, A.O Okpalah, had argued that his client in 2010 applied to the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory for an extension land, to cover the landed property in contention.
He also argued that, his client, by a letter dated 3/12/2010 requested for an extension of the plot of land in contention and same was granted by the minister of via a letter dated 19/3/2010.
However, the court observed that the evidence tendered by the defendants witness, Rabiu Isiaku, supports the plaintiffs case, noting that his testimony was a clear admission of trespass .
“In his evidence, the witness stated that he was granted the subject matter by the Hon. Minister of the FCT. In my view, once a Certificate of Occupancy is produced, it is a prima ficie evidence of title. ”
“The land, the subject matter of this suit was allocated to the plaintiff on the 19th day of October, 1994, while the defendants land was granted to it on the 2nd day of November, 2010. The above evidence supports the Plaintiff’s case. It is a clear admission of trespass. In my view, the plaintiff has established exclusive possession vide exhibits A and A1,” the Court held.
According to the judgment, trespass to land constitutes the slightest disturbance to the possession of land by a person who cannot show a better tittle.
“The Plaintiffs tittle is in first time, the defendants Certificate of Occupancy is not clear and readable, ” Kekemeke added.