Transcorp drags FG to court over property revocation
Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp) has instituted N1 billion suit before a Federal High Court in Lagos against the Attorney-General of the Federation and six others over alleged unlawful revocation of land/property located at Block 1, Flats 1-6, Rumens Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Other defendants in suit are, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mrs. Bello Morenike, Lt. CDR Okon Godwin Inyang, Joseph Etim Bassey, Akinyeke .P. Akinyeke and one J E Benten respectively.
Transcorp had in suit No- FHC/L/CS/794/2015 filed by its lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike (SAN) is seeking among other reliefs an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing the Revocation Order dated May 27, 2015 issued by the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
In the suit, which is before Justice Jude Kanyioh Dagat, Transcorp is also seeking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd – 7th defendants from interfering with or disturbing the title, possession or occupation of the property.
The plaintiff (Transcorp) in its amended statement of claim signed by Dr. Nwobike (SAN) stated that sometimes in 2005, the Federal Government through the Implementation Committee of Federal Government Landed Property offered the property located at Block 1, Flats 1-6, Rumens Road, Ikoyi, to it for lease for a term of 99 years at plaintiff’s bid price of N375 million.
The plaintiff averred that it accepted the offer as contained in the letter of Offer for lease of Federal Government Landed Property dated October 24, 2005 and completed the acceptance form and returned same to the Implementation Committee.
According to Transcorp, upon the receipt of its acceptance Form, the Implementation Committee on behalf of the Federal Government issued it with a confirmation of offer letter dated November 28, 2005 wherein the committee confirmed the offer of the property to the plaintiff at its bid price of N375 million.
Pursuant to the acceptance letter, the plaintiff stated that it paid the total bid price of N375 million to the Federal Government as well as other sundry charges as advised by the Implementation Committee.
The plaintiff further averred that after it made the payment, the Implementation Committee issued it with the Certificate of Occupancy and the property was handed over to it.
Subsequently, the plaintiff stated that it paid sitting tenants all their claims in the property and the tenants voluntarily surrendered physical possession of the property to it.
The plaintiff added that after it took possession of the property it commenced the processing of reconstructing renovating and that it expended over N200 million in rejigging the property.
Transcorp stated that the Implementation Committee also offered the property to the 3rd to 7th defendants but they failed to make mandatory payments to the Committee.
Having lost the right to the property the 3rd to 7th defendants instituted suit no- FHC/CS/311/2006 to challenge the decisions of the Implementation Committee but the court dismissed the suit in a ruling delivered on June 29, 2005.
However, the plaintiff stated that on May 29,2015 its attention was drawn to the publication issued by the 2nd defendants ( Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development) wherein the minister purported to revoke the Certificate of Occupancy issued to it.
Therefore, the plaintiff urged the court to declare the alleged revocation as invalid improper and null and void.
But, in their preliminary objection, the Federal government urged the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the suit is statue barred.
Also the 3rd to 7th defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
They also sought for and order dismissing the suit for being incompetent and an abuse of judicial process.
They urged the court to hold that the plaintiff has no locus standi to institute the suit.
Justice Dagat has adjourned the matter till July 5 to rule on the preliminary objections.
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