Much ado over N6.5bn Wuye mar­ket

Daily Trust - - LAW - Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

Af­ter pay­ing be­tween N3,000 to

N8,000 for let­ters of pro­vi­sional of­fer

of al­lo­ca­tion of shops/open spa­ces,

the plain­tiffs de­manded for keys

to the shops

Al­ready APSL has filed a mo­tion be­fore

the court for the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the judge­ment. The FCDA has also ap­proached the Court of Ap­peal to chal­lenge the pro­pri­ety of the

judge­ment

Ahigh court of the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory has been asked to re­strain about 707 traders from force­fully gain­ing en­trance and pos­sess­ing the N6.5 bil­lion Wuye ul­tra-mod­ern mar­ket for busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties.

The mar­ket has been a sub­ject of lit­i­ga­tion since last year af­ter it was com­mis­sioned by former Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan.

The traders led by Abah Den­ish, had dragged the min­is­ter of the FCT, the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal De­vel­op­ment Author­ity (FCDA), All Pur­pose Shel­ter Lim­ited and Abuja In­vest­ment and Prop­erty De­vel­op­ment Com­pany to the court over al­lo­ca­tion of shops at the mar­ket.

One of the de­fen­dants in the case, APSL has filed a mo­tion be­fore the court ask­ing it to set aside the writ of pos­ses­sion is­sued to the traders by the court on June 9, 2015.

It also asked the court to re­strain them from force­fully tak­ing pos­ses­sion of the mar­ket.

Novem­ber 10th has been fixed as the hear­ing date of the mo­tion. But APSL, in a let­ter is ask­ing the court to shift the hear­ing to an ear­lier date for speedy hear­ing of the mo­tion.

Also in the mo­tion, the court was asked to make def­i­nite pro­nounce­ment on the judg­ment to end the dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tions be­ing given to the judg­ments by par­ties.

A stay of the ex­e­cu­tion of the judg­ment of the court has also been filed by the Abuja In­vest­ment and Prop­erty De­vel­op­ment Com­pany as well as an ap­peal against the judg­ment.

In the mo­tion for stay of ex­e­cu­tion of judg­ment filed by James Idiih, the court is be­ing called upon to de­clare that the plain­tiffs in the suit lacked the lo­cus standi to in­sti­tute the ac­tion.

They are also chal­leng­ing the ju­ris­dic­tion of the court to hear the mat­ter.

In the ap­peal, the com­pany said the judg­ment is against the weight of ev­i­dence be­fore it.

It also said that the judge erred in law in his fail­ure to ap­pre­ci­ate the qual­ity of ev­i­den­tial bur­den that had to be dis­charged by the party that as­serts.

Jus­tice O. A. Musa had on March 23, 2015 or­dered that the traders should be al­lowed ac­cess into the mar­ket af­ter pay­ing ground rents and other statu­tory charges.

But the traders are claim­ing that the court had given them un­fet­tered ac­cess to the mar­ket, say­ing that the FCT should bear the cost of the con­struc­tion of the mar­ket.

The mar­ket was built on a 7.3 hectares of land un­der a pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship (PPP) and Build, Op­er­ate and Trans­fer (BOT) agree­ment.

Af­ter pay­ing be­tween N3,000 to N8,000 for let­ters of pro­vi­sional of­fer of al­lo­ca­tion of shops/ open spa­ces, the plain­tiffs de­manded for keys to the shops.

Each of the shops cost N3 mil­lion to N5 mil­lion.

The APSL said that the traders have no right to use and oc­cupy shops at the mar­ket with­out pay­ing for the shops be­cause it built the shops with its own resources and bank loan.

The plain­tiffs had claimed be­fore the court that the of­fer let­ters were re­leased to them be­cause they had met the terms of their al­lo­ca­tion. But the APSL coun­tered their claim and in­formed the court that they were yet to meet the terms of al­lo­ca­tion.

The APSL said: “The let­ters re­leased to the plain­tiffs were clearly marked ‘Let­ter of Pro­vi­sional Of­fer of Al­lo­ca­tion of Shops/Open Space’ which is de­pen­dent on other con­di­tions stip­u­lated in their let­ters of pro­vi­sional of­fer”.

Jus­tice Musa, in one breath af­ter go­ing through sub­mis­sions of coun­sel in the mat­ter said: “Also the 4th de­fen­dant (the firm) told the court that it was is­sued a piece of land at Wuye Dis­trict, Abuja by the 1st and 2nd de­fen­dants (FCT min­is­ter and FCDA) which was cov­ered by ex­hibit ‘F’ (Cer­tifi­cate of Oc­cu­pancy) dated Novem­ber, 2004. There­fore, it is clear that both the plain­tiff and the 4th de­fen­dant got their grant from the same gran­tor i.e. 1st and 2nd de­fen­dants and from sim­ple arith­metic, the plain­tiffs’ of­fer was first in time i.e. 2002 as against 4th de­fen­dant’s own which was in 2004.

“From the to­tal­ity of the ev­i­dence, no sin­gle ev­i­dence to show or prove that the 1st and 2nd de­fen­dants either with­drew or re­voked the plain­tiffs’ of­fer.

“To this end, hav­ing for­ti­fied my­self with the above de­ci­sions, it is my con­sid­ered opin­ion that ex­hibit AA be­ing the first in time def­i­nitely takes pri­or­ity over and above ex­hibit F. I so hold.”

In an­other breath, af­ter the plain­tiffs amended their state­ment of claim for a dec­la­ra­tion that they are not un­der any law­ful obli­ga­tion or duty to pay any amount of money over and above the var­i­ous spec­i­fied amount of money de­manded by the 1st and 2nd de­fen­dants from the plain­tiffs for the al­lo­ca­tion of shops and open spa­ces in the mar­ket and also, af­ter ask­ing the court to de­clare that the 1st and 2nd de­fen­dants shall be li­able for and bear the cost of the con­struc­tion of the shops al­lo­cated to the plain­tiffs, Jus­tice Musa said, “the plain­tiffs (the over 700 traders) did not lead ev­i­dence to sus­tain th­ese claims.

“It is trite law that the court can­not spec­u­late on the ev­i­dence not placed be­fore it. In sup­port of this, see the case of IGBELE Vs. State (2006) 6MWLR (pt.975) 100 at 199 paras F-G, where it was held that: ‘This court has de­cided that it is trite law that court should not spec­u­late in ev­i­dence but de­cide on ev­i­dence pre­sented be­fore it’.

“More so, a dec­la­ra­tion on th­ese claims will amount to a court declar­ing that the plain­tiff should not pay even ground rent and other statu­tory fees which the plain­tiff are bound to pay un­der the law. I am not ready to do that here. There­fore, th­ese two claims re­ferred above of the plain­tiffs can­not be granted for the rea­son stated herein. On that note, they are hereby re­fused ac­cord­ingly.

“In the fi­nal anal­y­sis, I am of the con­sid­ered opin­ion that the plain­tiffs in view of the ev­i­dence they led, have proved their case in part and for that rea­son, the plain­tiffs’ case suc­ceeds in part and fail in part. I so hold.”

Al­ready APSL has filed a mo­tion be­fore the court for the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the judge­ment. The FCDA has also ap­proached the Court of Ap­peal to chal­lenge the pro­pri­ety of the judge­ment.

Mar­ket men and women, weekened at the Wuye Model Mar­ket, FCT, Abuja

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