Efforts by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and three others to stop the hearing in a suit filed against them by the family of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, have met a brick wall as a Kaduna High Court has dismissed their objection.
The Head of the family, Mohammed Abacha, had dragged El-Rufai and others to court accusing them, among others, of trespassing on the family’s huge expanse of land housing the Durbar Hotel in Kaduna, unlawful demolition of the hotel and planning to sell it, having purportedly revoked the Certificate of Occupancy.
The Attorney-General of Kaduna State, the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority and the Kaduna State Geographic Information Service were joined as defendants in the suit with reference number: KDH/KAD/51/2020.
A copy of the court processes was made available to journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
Delivering his ruling, Justice Hanatu Balogun dismissed the notice of objection filed by the defendants on the grounds that it was without merit.
Justice Balogun upheld arguments by Abacha’s lawyer, Reuben Atabo (SAN), that the suit was competent, well instituted and raised cause of action against El-Rufai and the others for which they were required to enter a defence.
The defendants had, in their objection, queried the competence of the suit and the jurisdiction of the Court to hear it, arguing that the suit was not properly instituted and that it raised cause of action against El-Rufai and the attorney-general.
Justice Balogun held that against the defendants’ claim that the third and fourth defendants (KASUPDA and KADGIS) were not served the pre-action notice as required by law, the plaintiff served them pre-action notices dated January 17 and February 17, 2020.
“In my view, the plaintiff has complied with the provisions of the Kaduna State Urban and Regional Planning Law No. 31 of 2018 and the KADGIS Law No. 15 of 2018. In the present case, I find that the third and fourth defendants were notified of the plaintiff’s intention to sue,” she ruled.
On the defendants’ claim that the suit was invalid because KASUPDA was wrongly described as “agency” as against its actual name of “authority,” the judge said the error was a misnomer since nobody was misled by it.
The judge also held that the plaintiff raised substantial cause of action against El-Rufai and others as against the defendants’ argument that no cause of action was established.
She ruled that not only was El-Rufai, as the governor, vested with the power to administer all the land on behalf of the people, he “is the person said to have issued or directed the issuance of the contested revocation orders over the plaintiff’s right of occupancy.”
Justice Balogun adjourned till February 10, 2022 the hearing of the substantive suit.