Court Bars Wike, FCDA, and Others from Abuja Centenary City in Alleged Encroachment Case

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A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued a restraining order against the Minister of FCT, Nyesom Wike, and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), prohibiting them from encroaching into the Centenary Economic City Free Zone along Airport Road, Abuja.

In a landmark judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo also granted an injunction restraining the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and Arab Contractors (OAO) from further encroaching on the site in question.

The court nullified and set aside all executive actions, decisions, and administrative controls about the forceful encroachment of the premises by OAO, carried out at the instruction of the minister, FCTA, and FCDA without the prior consent of the plaintiffs and the overriding approval of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA).

Justice Ekwo emphasized that such encroachment contravened relevant provisions of the NEPZA Act and the Nigerian Constitution, rendering it unconstitutional, illegal, and void.

Furthermore, the court directed Arab Contractors (OAO) Nigeria Limited to vacate the portion of the Centenary Economic City Free Zone it unlawfully occupies and pay compensation to the plaintiffs for the invasion and destruction of their master plan. The sum of N100 million was awarded for this purpose, in addition to N50 million in general damages and N5 million as the cost of the action.

Additionally, Justice Ekwo ordered Arab Contractors to pay interest on the entire judgment sum at a rate of 10 percent per annum until fully liquidated.

The judgment, delivered on Feb. 6, underscores the significance of upholding legal frameworks and protecting property rights in development projects.

The lawsuit, filed in 2022, saw the plaintiffs, Centenary Economic City Free Zone and Centenary City Free Zone Company, challenging the actions of various government bodies and agencies, including the Nigerian president, the Attorney-General of Federation, and NEPZA.

According to the Managing Director of the second plaintiff, Mr Ikechukwu Odenigwe, the Centenary City Project received approval from the Federal Executive Council in December 2022. The project, initiated in April 2013, aimed to develop a real estate investment hub on land allocated in the FCT.

The court’s decision affirms the sanctity of property rights and underscores the importance of adherence to legal procedures in development initiatives.

Soukaina Sghir

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