Court fixes date to hear estate residents’ suit against Customs
The National Industrial Court in Lagos on Thursday adjourned till March 3, 2017 hearing in a suit by residents of the Gowon Estate, Ipaja against the Nigeria Customs Service.
More than 192 residents of the NCS Quarters in the estate had jointly instituted the suit against the defendant.
They also joined as defendants the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Federal Government’s Landed Property.
The case was stalled at the resumed date due to the absence of the trial judge.
A new date was, however, fixed for March 3, 2017.
Meanwhile, Joseph Igwe was present in court as counsel for the claimants.
The claimants are contesting what they termed as “clandestine moves by an influential Nigerian” to get the committee to eject them and acquire the blocks of flats built some 40 years ago.
They had expressed interest to buy the flats as sitting tenants in March 2012 and paid N10,000 each for the expression of interest form, after which a verification exercise was carried out.
The Federal Government had in 2004 advertised the sale of its residential properties across the country, including Lagos, first to sitting tenants.
The former Comptroller-General of the NCS, Alhaji Abdullahi Diko Inde, had on December 23, 2015 directed the Lagos Zonal Office of the NCS to eject the officers, both serving and retired, by December 31, 2015.
The said ejection was via a circular referenced NCS/ENF/ABJ/113/S.174, titled: “Administration and harmonization of quarters/barracks allocation,” and signed by the Acting Deputy Comptroller-General, Dan Ugo.
The residents averred that the move was a contravention of the Federal Government’s policy removing its hands from owning and maintaining staff quarters.
Federal agencies in the estate that have benefited from the sale of such houses include the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police, Federal Housing Authority and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Others are the News Agency of Nigeria, the defunct Nigerian Airways and the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line.
The residents, among other reliefs, want the court to direct the committee to issue letters of allocation to them and stop the NCS from making moves to re-acquire the quarters already relinquished by the government.
Hearing is now fixed for March 3, 2017.