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Lawyers seek review of Land Use Act, want land control revert to owners

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Review

Lagos, March 12, 2019 Some lawyers on Tuesday in Lagos called for a review of the provisions of the Land Use Act of 1978 to keep reflect current realities and circumstances.

The lawyers told the News Agency of Nigeria in interviews that the review would also enhance access to land titles.

According to them, the provisions of the Act are obsolete and need urgent remodeling.

NNN reports that the Act regulates the use and administration of lands.

It vests all lands comprised in the territory of each state (except land vested in the Federal Government or its agencies) solely in the governor of the state.

The governor is responsible for allocation of lands in all urban areas to individuals and organisations for residential, agriculture, commercial and other purposes while similar powers with respect to non-urban areas are conferred on local governments.

Some Lagos-based lawyers argued on Tuesday that the Act conferred much powers on the governor whose consent, they claimed, was rigorous to obtain.

Mr Spurgeon Ataene, who is also a social critic, told NNN that the Land Use Act required urgent reforms.

According to him, the Act seems oppressive on land owners, as citizens are faced with outrageous bills to secure certificates of occupancy and governor’s consent.

“Let the control of land revert to the people; if government is interested in any land for public policy, it should involve the owners of the land, and pay them enough compensation.

“The control government needs to exert should be in ensuring quality buildings to avoid building collapse and loss of lives; penalties should be spelt out for offenders.

“Another means is to incorporate clauses that will ensure prompt compliance with affordable housing policy; nobody should frustrate citizens by giving premium to one area of the city over the rest, as if those other areas are non-existent.

“The sooner we remove these segregations, the better for all citizens,” he said.

Ataene said that land and any property on it should be left to the benefit of its original owners to enjoy in perpetuity, urging that there should be no reversal of such even after the 99 years.

“All multiple levies on lands should be removed; one affordable levy is sufficient,” he advised.

The immediate past Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Onyekachi Ubani, told NNN: “The issue of vesting all lands in the governor is very archaic and actually hampering transactions in land.

“`Getting a certificate of occupancy or obtaining governor’s consent is a rigorous process especially in cities such as Lagos and Abuja.”

According to Ubani, title to land is key to land transactions for dealers and investors, as land cannot be used as collateral for bank loans, if there is no governor’s consent and without requisite authentication.

He called for easy access to land titles to give value to lands.

“The Land Use Act has to be amended in relation to this,” he said.

The lawyer, however, noted that the Land Use Act formed part of the nation’s constitution, and must first be separated from the constitution before any review or amendment could be possible.

“Knowing the rigidity of our constitution, we cannot just amend the Land Use Act which forms part of this constitution; first, it should be removed,’’ he urged.

A commercial lawyer, Mr Godwin Adelemoni, told NNN that at the time of enacting the Act, it was necessary to put management of lands under a central control; hence, the need to vest all lands in each state under the control of its governor.

He said, however, that the powers given to the governor appeared to be too expansive, as by virtue of the Act, dealings on land from sale, purchase to mortgage must be done pursuant to the consent of the governor.

“It then means that if you intend to acquire land for factories, farms, property development or even personal use, you must seek the governor’s consent to legalise such land deals.

“This bottleneck must be removed either by narrowing down the types of land transactions that require governor’s consent or by reducing the excessive powers granted to the governor on lands,’’ he said.

According to Adelemoni, state governments can remove the difficulties faced by citizens in registering their land titles as a strategy to enhance access.

Judiciary

Ikpeazu swears in 3 new judges

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Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia on Tuesday swore in three new High Court Judges with a charge to contribute to the building of a strong and reliable judicial system in the state.

Speaking at the ceremony at the Executive Chambers of the Government House, Umuahia, Ikpeazu said that a strong and progressive judicial system would help to promote good governance and socio-economic growth in Abia.

He said that his administration was at the threshold of breaking new vistas through its numerous intervention programmes but required the support of the judiciary.

He ascribed the achievements of his administration in various sectors of the economy to the support of the judiciary.

He said that the judiciary had a significant role to play in building a better society for future generations.

The governor further said that a strong and reliable judicial system would protect the rights of citizens and promote economic growth.

He said that he was confident that the new judges understood the weight and burden of the responsibility which had been placed on their shoulders.

Ikpeazu said, “I will be counting on you to support the state government to be among states that make between N3 billion and N5 billion of internally generated revenue monthly.”

Responding on behalf of others judges, Justice Benson Anya thanked the governor for giving them the opportunity to serve the people and protect their fundamental human rights.

Anya said: “We are going to work hard on every area of governance that requires support from the judiciary.

“We will ensure that the people receive justice and will discharge our duties in line with the oath we have sworn.”

Nigeria News Agency reports that the other judges included Justices Enyinnaya Okezie and Ogbonna Adiele.

NAN recalls that Anya served as the Chief Registrar of the state High Court, while Okezie served as former state Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice.

Also, Adiele served as a Magistrate of the Aba North Magistrates’ Court.

(Edited by Sam Oditah)

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Appeal court affirms election of Ihedioha as Imo governor

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Tueday affirmed the victory of Emeka Ihedioha in the March 9 governorship election in Imo.

The appeals were filed against the judgment of the Imo Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld the election of Ihedioha.

It includes that of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and his governorship candidate, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume; Action Alliance (AA) and his governorship candidate, Uche Nwosu and that of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Sen. Hope Uzodinma.

The appellants are asking the appellate court to void the election of Ihedioha on grounds that he did not obtain the constitutional one quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, in line with Section 179 of the Constitution.

In their various submissions by their counsel, the appellants are asking the court to set aside the decision of the tribunal and declare them winner of the March 9 governorship election.

Also in the alternative order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election into the office of Governor of Imo State.

In a unanimous judgment, the five -man panel presided by Justice Oyebisi Omoyele dismissed the appeal by Action Alliance and it’s candidate, Uche Nwosu for lack of merit and upheld the judgment of the lower tribunal.

In addition, a cost of N500, O00 was awarded against the appellants.

The panel upheld the judgment of the lower tribunal adding that the assessment of the tribunal was thorough and resolved the appeal against the appellants.

In Sen. Hope Uzodinma’s appeal, there was a dissenting judgment of ratio 4:1

Four members agreed that the appeal lacks merit in addition awarded a cost of N500, 000 against the appellants while a member saw merit in the appeal and said that the judgment of the lower court be set aside awarded a cost of N1million against PDP and Ihedioha.

In Ifeanyi Ararume’s appeal, the appeal was also dismissed for inability of the appellants prove their allegations against the respondents.

The panel affirmed the judgment of the lower tribunal and awarded a cost of N500, 000 against the appellants.

The three-member panel of the tribunal had in a unanimous decison delivered on Sept. 21, held that Ihedioha was lawfully declared winner of the governorship election by INEC.

The panel chaired by Justice Malami Dongondaji, had in the judgment dismissed Ararume, Nwosu and Uzodinma’s petitions for lacking in merit on the grounds that they failed to prove allegations made in their petitions.

They claimed that Ihedioha did not obtain the constitutional one quarter of the votes in at least two-thirds of the 27 local government areas of the state, in line with the provisions of the law.

The petitioners also alleged substantially of non compliance with the Electoral Act and Guidelines, including other irregularities.

The tribunal in its judgment held that the case of the petitioners was unmeritorious because they failed to call relevant witnesses and that evidence of witnesses called were based on hearsay.

The tribunal in addition rejected documents tendered by the petitioners in support of their claims on the grounds that those who led evidence in the documents were not the makers of the documents.

In his appeal, Ararume urged the appellate court to upturn the decision of the tribunal on the grounds that the lower court erred in law when it arrived at the decision that his case and that of his party lacked merit and accordingly dismissed it.

The appeal which was predicated on 22 grounds was argued by his lead lawyer, Mr Awa Kalu, SAN, while that of Nwosu and AA, was argued by Mr Niyi Akintola SAN, and that of Uzodinma and APC, was argued by Mr Damian Dodo ,SAN.

They all urged the panel to allow the appeal and grant all the reliefs sought by the appellants.

However, lead counsel to Emeka Ihedioha and Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu , SAN, and Mr K.O. Njemanze ,SAN, respectively urged the court to dismiss the appeals for being incompetent and lacking in merit.

The respondents submitted that the appeal of the AA and Nwosu in particular constitute a waste of the precious time.

They argued that the Supreme Court in a judgment delivered on October 22, had already struck out the name of Uche Nwosu as candidate of the AA in the March 9 governorship election in Imo State.

The respondents also claimed that the appeal of Nwosu lacked merit going by a recent judgment of the Court of Appeal which nullified the candidacy of Nwosu in the governorship election. (NAN )

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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Judiciary

Aliyu VS Tambuwal: Appeal Court reserves judgement

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto on Tuesday reserved judgement in the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate in the state Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu.

Aliyu is challenging the Governorship Election Tribunal judgement that affirmed the election of Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 9 governorship election in the state.

The election was declared inconclusive following cancellation of 75, 403 votes which were higher than the 3, 413 votes margin between the leading candidates.

A re-run was held on March 23, which led to the victory of Tambuwal who won with a slim margin of 342 votes.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the tribunal on Oct. 2, in Abuja affirmed the election of Tambuwal.

The three man tribunal led by Justice Abbas Bawale dismissed the petition of the APC and its governorship candidate, Aliyu, for lacking in merit.

Unsatisfied with the judgement Aliyu, on Oct. 16, filed a notice of Appeal challenging the judgement of the lower court, seeking the court to set aside the tribunal judgement and declared him as the winner of the election.

The four man panel of Justice led by Justice Hussein Mukhtar, reserved judgement in the appeal.

The Presiding Justice said that, the judgment will be ready in a short frame of time and the court will communicate when it is ready.

Edited by Ali Baba-Inuwa

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Judiciary

Man allegedly breaks into church, steals N423,000 instruments

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A 31-year-old man, Ebuka Nwafor, on Tuesday appeared before an Ikorodu Magistrates’ Court in Lagos State, for allegedly breaking into a church and stealing musical instruments worth N423,000.

The defendant, whose address and occupation were not provided, is facing a four-count charge.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The Prosecutor, Sgt. Mary Ajiteru, told the court that the defendant conspired with others still at large and broke into a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God  on Arihudom Street, Owode-Ajegunl, Ikorodu Road, Lagos State.

She said that the defendant and his accomplices broke into the church on Nov 11, at 3:00a.m. and stole the musical instruments.

Ajiteru added that the defendant broke in through a window.

She  said that the defendant stole a sound mixer, a piano, an LG plasma television set, two amplifiers, four wire microphones and one wireless microphone, all valued at N423,000.
 
 the suspected thieves entered, adding that he he heard noises.
 
“When he came to check what was happening, the intruders had broken in and the defendant was seen  trying to cart away the plasma TV; he was caught while  the others escaped,” she said.
 
She said that the offences contravened Sections 287, 311, 411 of Criminal Law of Lagos State,  2015.
 
The Magistrate, Mr O.M. Dawodu, granted the defendant N100,000 bail with two sureties in like sum.
 
He adjourned the case until Dec. 19 for mention.
 

Edited by Yakubu Uba/Ijeoma Popoola

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Judiciary

Police arraign man for alleged impersonation

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The Police on Tuesday arraigned Victor Ugwu, a 25-year-old unemployed man in an Ikeja Chief Magistrates’ Court, for alleged impersonation.

Ugwu, who resides at Cele area of Lagos, is standing trial for allegedly wearing a military camouflage.

The prosecutor, ASP Peter Nwangwu, told the court that the defendant committed the alleged offence at Cele Bus-Stop, along Mile 2, Oshodi Expressway, Lagos on Sept. 12, at about 1.30 p.m.

Nwangwu said a team of policemen on patrol arrested him at Cele Bus-Stop wearing the camouflage.

He said the defendant was unable to give a satisfactory explanation about his identity when he was questioned by a team of investigators.

The prosecutor said the alleged offence was in contravention of sections 77 (a), (b), and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

Ugwu, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The defendant went ahead with an oral bail application praying the court to use its discretion to admit him on bail.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs Yewande Aje-Afunwa, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N250, 000 with two sureties in like sum.

Aje-Afunwa, then adjourned the case until Jan. 16 for further mention.

Edited by Martins Odeh/Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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Judiciary

Suswam: Court adjourns until Nov. 25, 26

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Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned the continuation of trial in the suit involving Sen. Gabriel Suswam until Nov. 25 and Nov. 26.

Justice Abang adjourned the matter after examination and cross-examination of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s first prosecution witness, Mrs Clara-Whyte Mshelia, by counsel to both parties were completed.

“Thank you very much. You are hereby discharged from the witness box,” the judge told Mshelia.

Nigeria News Agency report that Suswam and the then Commissioner for Finance in his administration, Omadachi Oklobia, are being prosecuted before the court on N3.1 billion money laundering charges.

They were accused by the EFCC of diverting the money which was said to be part of the proceeds of the sale of some shares of Benue State in a company.

Sen. Suswam, a former Governor of Benue State, presently represents Benue North-East Senatorial District.

Justice Abang had, on Monday, adjourned the matter till Tuesday to enable the EFCC’s witness to continue her testimony.

Msheila is the Managing Director, Elixir Investment Partners, the firm managing Benue State’s shares on behalf of the state.

EFCC’s Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, shortly after the court’s sitting, hinted that the anti-graft agency still had no fewer than six more witnesses to be presented in the suit against the defendants.

details later…

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