Much ado over N6.5bn Wuye market
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
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