Court dismisses as unfounded, case brought by original inhabitants of the Nigerian capital alleging violation of their property rights by the government

The ECOWAS Court has dismissed as ‘unfounded,’ a case brought by the Registered Trustees of the Original Inhabitants Development Association of the Nigerian capital territory, Abuja alleging the violation of their right to property by the Nigerian government and the country’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

In dismissing the suit filed by the Association and 161 others, the Court adjudged the case as unfounded as the plaintiffs did not provide any documents showing they have right of ownership of the property (ancestral land) under dispute and for which they were claiming compensation.

The plaintiffs had in suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/08/17 filed on the 1st of February 2017, claimed that they were victims of continuous violation of their rights to social, political, economic and cultural development, right to property and right to live in a place of their choice in their native country, by security agents of the Nigerian government.

They submitted that on the 8th of December 2016 the 1st defendant through its agent issued them a 48 hours quit notice without adequate compensation or alternative location/land from their ancestral land and environment which they have occupied before the creation of FCT as the federal capital of Nigeria.

They claimed that some of the indigenes lost their lives, while others suffered victimization, intimidation, harassment, illegal arrest, and demolition of their houses in the FCT Abuja and which have resulted in displacements.

They added that if the defendant succeeded in the continuous violation, they would become displaced persons, which is a violation of their right to property and had requested the Court to grant an injunction ordering the defendant to respect their right to property.

They equally sought orders of the Court to declare that the plaintiffs are entitled to their fundamental rights as citizens of the capital to partake in the governance of the territory including election as the Minister of the territory. Among other reliefs, they asked for 2 billion as compensation for the based on an evaluation report submitted by a private surveyor engaged by the plaintiffs.

On their part, the defendants did not file any statement of defence in response to the plaintiff’s initiating application and motion for expedited hearing. Consequently, the panel adjudicated on the matter upon the plaintiffs’ application for default judgment.

On the panel of judges for the judgment which was delivered on 26th September 2019, were Honorable Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara, Dupe Atoki and Januaria Costa.