Human rights lawyer,Mike Ezekhome, SAN, has slammed a N50bn lawsuit against the Anambra State Government.
He said the claim was for damages for defacing about 148 hectres of land belonging to the Federal government in the state.
Speaking at the Anambra State judicialry complex in Awka, Anambra Stste after a resuming hearing on the matter, Ezekhome said the state government had no powers in any extant law to trespass or revoke any land legally allotted to the Federal Government.
“We are claiming the sum of N50 billion as damages for defacing the land in the first instance. The structures there are not the structures approved by the federal government with the agreement of the allottees numbering 1,850.
“And then a single profit-oriented company taking over. That’s an unfair deal. The Anambra State government should know that.
“Under sections 315 and 317 of the constitution read together with sections 1, 10, 28 and 51 of the Land Use Act, Anambra State has no power whatsoever and howsoever to take over land belonging to the Federal Government in Anambra State because the same state government had already given this land to the federal government as shown by evidence attached.
“And the federal government had already taken over the project as federal government’s sites and services scheme at Amansea in Anambra State which is about 148.336 hectares of land.
“Having taken over, the federal government decided that in order to build it, they have to allocate it to allottees to develop it to specifications.
“The lands were bulldozed, graded; streets were put. Then, suddenly, the Anambra State government purported to revoke the certificate of occupancy given to the federal government in September 2009 .
“And the federal government said ‘you can’t. This is a land that we own through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and we have allocated it to some allottees to build according to our specifications.
“The state government has no power to take over land belonging to the federal government. It’s an exception to the land use act which is that all lands in the state belong to the state government which it holds in trust for the people.
“So, we told the court today, the background story. This matter has been on since 2015 but that unfortunately, the Aanmbra State government has given or rather is purporting to give the land to Efab Construction Company to build houses on the land even whilst the dispute is going on.
“They should be careful not be working on the land that is in dispute and I believe that the judge and the counsel to the Anamnbra State government got the message.
“So, it is left to them whether they can take that big risk of constructing on a land that is in dispute to their knowledge and where they have been having lawyers since 2015.”
Counsel for the Anambra State Government, Emeka Etiaba, SAN, said there was no going back on the matter.
“We’ll be here on 30th March again to adopt our addreses after which we look forward to judgment from the court.“