Demolition of Caramelo Lounge and Suites Abuja is not just Illegal but utter madness

By the provision of section 43 of our Constitution, every citizen has the right to acquire, own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria. Section 44 of the same Constitution legislate against compulsory acquisition of property except by a laid down procedure.

The Supreme Court in the case of Military Governor of Lagos State & 2Ors V. Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu & Anor (1986) 1 NWLR 621 at 637-638, paragraphs H-D, per Obaseki, JSC, in utter condemnation of the executive illegality in compulsory acquisition of property held:

“…No one is entitled to possession of premises by a strong hand or with multitude of people. That has been forbidden ever since the statute of Richard II against forcible entry. This applies to the Police as much as to anyone else. It applies to the government departments also…. They must not take the Law into their own hands. They must apply to the Court for possession and act only on the authority of the Court… seeing however that possession was taken from her wrongfully, it should be restored to her. Thus only can the law be vindicated. If she is to be turned out, it must be by due process in the Courts of law and not by action of the executive… In my judgment, this Court should make an interim order that she be restored to her possession of this flat. The final rights can be decided later.”

When a citizen contravenes provisions of a planning law or any regulation made pursuant to a law, as was alleged against Caramelo, sections 47, 48 and 50 of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act 2004(N.U.R.P Act) provide for service of enforcement notice (which includes: stop notice, contravention notice and demolition notice) that may order the citizen to alter, vary, remove or discontinue development.

Where the citizen fails to alter, very, remove or discontinue development, then Section 61 of the same Act provides that a 21 days demolition notice is to be served by the Control Department before demolishing his property. See the unreported judgement of Kutigi .J of High Court of FCT in Obor & Ors v. FCDA & Ors (Suit No: CV/3998/2012).

The act of officials of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) pouncing on Caramelo for alleged contravention of building plan and had it demolished, after a mere service of 2 days demolition notice, is an utter exhibition of cruel, illegal and unconstitutional conducts…I strongly believe they would have their day in court.

The madness with which exhibit in demolishing peoples’ houses, motherless babies homes, places of worship and properties of opposition members is a call for concern. This latest illegality is coming at the hills of unlawful arrest of some women fun seekers at Caramelo few weeks ago by the authority of FCDA based on spurious and disingenuous allegation that they were prostitutes.

One is forced to ask, what stopped the FCDA from sealing the building until the owner complied with laid down regulations… why the rush to pull down a million naira investment just in a jiffy?

Those who man our public offices should act according to law and not be influenced by personal prejudices.

Barr. Obioma Ezenwobodo
Abuja based legal practitioner and Human rights activist.

 

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