A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Maitama, Abuja on Friday, extended the order restraining the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello, from further demolishing the residence of Abuja socialite, Prince Joseph Kpokpogri.
The order followed an ex-parte application that Kpokpogri who is a former lover of popular Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, filed through his team of lawyers led by Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).
Justice Charles Agbaza held that the order would subsist until the hearing and determination of the suit the Claimant brought before the court.
“This court has the powers to grant an extension of the order in exercise of its discretion so as to preserve the Res (subject matter) of this suit.
“It will serve the interest of justice to allow the order to remain alive until the determination of the matter. Accordingly, this matter is hereby adjourned till September 12,” Justice Agbaza held.
The FCT Minister had through his lawyer, Y. Abubakar, urged the court to vacate the restraining order which he said ought to elapse after seven days.
“It is exactly eight days after the order was made. The Rule of this court provides that such order shall abate after seven days and there is no formal application for its extension,” Abubakar submitted.
However, counsel for the Claimant, Richard Ebie, urged the court to revalidate the order which he argued had no definite lifespan until the determination of the case.
“There is no formal application before this court for the ex-parte order made on July 7 to be vacated.
“This is a case where a party had, on its own, decided to take laws into its own hands. If the order is set aside that means they will have a leeway to continue the demolition,” Ebie added.
After he had listened to both sides, Justice Agbaza dismissed the oral application by counsel to the FCT Minister.
Ozekhome had at the last adjourned date, told the court that some persons from the Federal Capital Development Authority, had on May 14, invaded his client’s residence, “accompanied by a multitude of heavily armed policemen and bulldozers and excavators”, and commenced the demolition of his house, beginning with the boys quarters.
He told the court that agents of the FCDA threatened to return for total demolition of Kpokpogri’s house, even though they failed to give any reason for their action.
Consequently, Ozekhome begged the court to intervene in the matter, in the interest of justice.
Aside from the FCT Minister, other Defendants in the suit are the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the Federal Capital Development Authority, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, Federal Housing Authority, and the Attorney General of the Federation.
Specifically, the court issued an order of interim injunction restraining the Defendants either by themselves, agents, officials, privies, all those purporting to have derived title from them or other persons howsoever called from trespassing on or further trespassing on, demolishing, or further demolishing the property known as Plots 203 and 204, 27 Road, Gusape District, Apo Estate, Abuja, covered by letters of allocation issued by the Federal Housing Authority with Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.203 and Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.204 or from evicting the occupants of the said property or in any way interfering with the plaintiff’s exclusive right of possession of the said property pending the determination of the motion on notice.
Kpokpogri is among other things, praying the court to order the Defendants to pay him aggravated and general damages to the tune of N2 billion.
In an affidavit he personally deposed to, the Claimant told the court that he is the beneficial owner and the person in exclusive possession of all that property known as Plots 203 and 204, 27 Road, Apo Estate, Abuja, covered by letters of allocation issued by Federal Housing Authority with Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.203 and Ref. No. FHA/BD/ES/APO/P.204 respectfully.