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Ebonyi Centenary City: Court Orders Status Quo As Community Demands One Billion Naira Compensation

By IGNATIUS OKPARA, Abakaliki

(African Examiner) – A Federal High Court sitting in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State, South- East Nigeria has ordered parties to the disputed Abakaliki new capital city, also known as Centenary city, to maintain status quo in further development of area.

Our Correspondent reports that the land mapped out for the project has been a subject of dispute between the governor David Umahi led  government, the police, Army, and land owners, who are seeking N1billion exemplary damages.

Justice A. Aluko, while ruling on an application before the Court ordered that status quo be maintained pending the determination of the substantive suit filed by the indigenous land owners against the violation of their fundamental human rights by the state government and the Nigerian Army.

The people of Ndieze Inyimegu Unuphu, Izzi-Amegu community in Abakaliki council Area of the state had dragged the Nigerian Army, Police and the state government to court for unlawful acquisition of their ancestral land, demolition of their homes and ancient cultural sites, farms and economic trees.

In the suit filed at the Court, the people through some of their members, including Chief Egbarada Nwanknwegu, Chief Nwibo Nwogbaga, Chief Christopher Nwaifuru, Comrade Sunday Ogbaga, Mrs. Maria Nkwegu and Mrs. Felicia Igwe alleged that the respondents violated their fundamental human rights of human dignity, private and family life contrary to sections 34 and 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

They equally accused the respondents of breaching their fundamental rights to economic, social and cultural development,
general satisfactory environment favourable to their development, and
freedom from spoliation, contrary to Articles 17(2), 21, 22 and 24 of
the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The applicants further alleged that the respondents unlawfully, forcefully and without lawful authority, entered into their lands with bulldozers and other demolition equipments, destroyed, demolished and cleared away some of their homes, farms and economic tress in December 2013 and 22nd November, 2016.

According to the suit, the unlawful actions of the respondents rendered the affected applicants homeless, broke their families apart and brought starvation upon the applicants.

“The unlawful actions of the respondents have continued to deprive the applicants of valuable arable land for farming and grazing.

“As a people, the economic, social and cultural development of the
applicants has also been shattered by the respondents’ actions.

It continued: “Many of the applicants, having no home of their own any longer have become tenants, even without assurance of where their next rent will come from. Others have become beggars, sleeping at motor parks and any available shelter”, the community further alleged.

The applicants equally sought an injunction restraining the respondents from arresting them, carrying out any further evacuation, demolition
and/or destruction of their homes, buildings, farmlands, economic
tress, etc, on the community.

They also sought N1billion exemplary damages against the respondents.

In his ruling on the ex-parte application filed by the applicants’ counsel, from the law firm of Ani & Edemba, Justice Aluko ordered them to maintain status quo pending the determination of the substantive application.

He however, adjourned hearing of the substantive suit to March 6, 2017.

 

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