High CourtForced evictions are prohibited under international law, says AI
A federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Apo, Abuja has given judgment against the Federal Capital Development Authority (FDCA) in its bid to evict residents of Mpape community. The court described the attempt as illegal and unlawful.
Justice Abubakar Idris Kutigi, after hearing the witnesses, evidence and processes in over four and half years of the court process and having himself passed through three courts in Bwari, Jabi and the judgment court at Apo, made the declaration in favour of Mpape residents in the matter.
Residents of Mpape community, which is within Bwari area council, had instituted a court action in July 2012 challenging the legality of demolition threat by officials of the Department of Development Control of the FCDA who served the residents with quit notice.
The residents, in response, protested the planned eviction of the densely populated community covering approximately 400 hectares of land, which, according to census figures of the Mpape Residents Community Development Association (MRCDA) has over 60,000 houses and thousands of residents.
At the court sitting yesterday, Justice Kutigi, in his declaration, granted judgment in favour of the plaintiffs due to failure of the defendants to issue statutory notices in compliance with provisions of applicable laws and due process before embarking on actions aimed at demolishing their properties at Mpape. He declared the action as illegal and unlawful.
The judge also declared that: “The defendants cannot demolish the plaintiffs’ house situated in Mpape. Properties identified included MT105 along Ajegunle street, No. RB55 Arab road, No. B239 behind Catholic Church on Ajegunle road, No. 1 Okenugo opposite Berger quarry road, No. 1 Olutanmola lane G.R.A Mpape and other structures and facilities attached to land in Mpape, FCT with strict compliance with requirements of applicable laws.”
He said the Federal Government is signatory to international treaties, protocols and conventions, adding that these obligations must be respected.While counsels to both the plaintiff and defendant were in court, Bwari Area Council, under which Mpape is situated was absent.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International (AI) has expressed concern on the fate of Mpape residents had the court judgment been pronounced in favor of the FCDA.
Nigeria’s Housing and Social Rights Researcher for AI, Morayo Adebayo said: “It will be used as an excuse to forcibly evict thousands of Mpape residents, many of whom have lived there for decades and have no alternative homes.
“This would be a violation of Nigeria’s human rights obligations under a range of international and regional treaties.“Forced evictions are prohibited under international law in all circumstances.”