BCL Limited has sued the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at the Federal High Court, Lagos, for N1billion over its continued occupation of a property at No. 13B Reeves Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, belonging to BCL Limited.
Aside from NAF, other defendants in the suit include the Chief of Air Staff, NAF Investment Limited, Commander 107 NAF Camp, Victoria Island Lagos, Federal Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Secretary, Presidential Implementation Committee on Federal Government Landed Property.
BCL, in its statement of claim attached to the suit No: HC/LC/CS/1769/14, filed by its counsel, Abubakar Sheidu, before Justice Mohammed Idris, alleged that NAF ejected its employees and prevented its agents from continuing with re-development of the property which it had already commenced.
The firm alleged that armed personnel of the Nigerian Air Force have continued to occupy the said property in total violation of the rights of the lawful owner.
BCL claimed that it obtained the property in 2008 without encumbrances based on a memorandum of understanding and developmental lease signed between the company and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, acting for the Federal Government.
The firm further claimed to have paid N176,925,000 for the leasehold.
“Despite several written proofs from the Presidential Implementation Committee of the White Paper on the Commission of Inquiry into the Alienation of Federal Government Landed Property, which handled the lease of the property on behalf of the Federal Government to support BCL’s claim, the NAF forcefully ejected BCL and stopped its agents from re-development of the property, which it had already commenced,” the company alleged.
It said: “The NAF has continued to occupy the property refusing its lawful owner access in outright disregard of a letter by Secretary of the Presidential Implementation Committee part of which reads that, “the Federal Government property known as 13B Reeve Road was never at any time offered to the Nigerian Air Force. The property was never an institutional property for the Nigerian Air Force.”
The claimant sought several declarations and orders against the defendants.
The firm through its counsel, Sheidu prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants collectively or severally by themselves or their agents from meddling with or purporting to sell, alienate or transfer the plaintiff’s title, rights or interest in No. 13B Reeve Road, Ikoyi-Lagos whether to themselves (jointly or severally) or any other person or persons.
They also asked for N500 million as special damages and another N500million being general damages suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the NAF, the Chief of Air Staff, NAF Investment Limited, Commander 107 NAF Camp, Victoria Island Lagos trespass, invasion and illegal seizure of the plaintiff’s property known as No. 13B Reeve Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
In its statement of defence, NAF through its officers, Flying Officer Oluwaseun Afolabi and B. R. Ashiru, urged the court to dismiss the suit.
NAF also denied all the claims made by the claimant, BCL limited insisting that there was no truth in them.
NAF claimed that they are not aware of any development regarding the lease agreement between BCL Limited and the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
It also claimed that they were not aware of any sum paid and put the plaintiffs to the proof if any such payment was made.
The NAF, insisting on having been in possession, said in 2004, it indicated interest in buying the Federal Government’s properties at Nos. 13A and 13B Reeve Road in Ikoyi Lagos during the Federal Government’s monetisation policy implementation.
The organisation maintained that the plaintiff is not entitled to any of the prayers sought for and urged the court to discountenance such prayers as frivolous and baseless.
Counsel to the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Secretary, Presidential Implementation Committee on Federal Government Landed Property, Chijioke Dike, in their response, stated that the said property was formally in the occupation of the NAF by its personnel and same was not at any time classified as an institutional property.
According to him, the property was initially slated for redevelopment under the Public-private partnership of the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, but due to frustration and failure of redevelopment, the Federal Government cancelled the programme and the Secretary, Presidential Implementation Committee on Federal Government Landed Property was authorised to sell the property and since the property was not an institutional property it was never at any time offered to the NAF.
He further said the property was not among those exempted from lease in the guidelines for the disposal or sale of Federal Government properties.
Justice Idris has adjourned the case till October 24, this year for continuation of trial.