Falana, in a letter to the FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, asked him to caution Attah and direct him to halt the planned demolition of structures.
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has urged the Federal Capital Territory ministry not to embark on its planned demolition of Mpape, a populous suburb of Abuja.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) had on Tuesday announced plans to go ahead with its planned demolition of illegal structures in the community within the next few days.
Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on City Sanitation, Ikharo Attah, said stopping the demolition of illegal structures would leave the city in ruins.
Attah said the demolition exercise in Mpape would be massive.
But Falana, in a letter to the FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, asked him to caution Attah and direct him to halt the planned demolition of structures in the community over a subsisting court order.
He said, “We act as Solicitors to the Plaintiffs in the above mentioned suit and on behalf of all House owners and residents of MPAPE community hereinafter referred to as our Clients and on whose instructions we write this letter.
“Our Clients' attention has been drawn to a press statement credited to Comrade Ikharo Attah, the FCT Ministerial Committee Chairman on City Sanitation wherein he notified the general public of a planned demotion of illegal structures in MPAPE community under the disguise of sanitising the city.
“This announcement has thrown the entire MPAPE community into a panic mood and the residents of the area whom are our Clients herein are apprehensive that the planned demolition may go beyond the said road corridors and extend to their houses and as such they have approached our firm and instructed us to write to your good offices and bring to your notice the subsisting court judgment on the demolition of MPAPE Community and to notify you that the planned demolition is a violation of the existing court order.
“You will recall that sometime in 2012, the then FCT Minister threatened to demolish houses in Mpape Community which prompted the residents to challenge the planned demolition before the FCT High Court. In his erudite judgment, HON. JUSTICE A.I. KUTIGI, considering all legal issues declared among other reliefs that your office cannot demolish the Plaintiffs’ houses situated, lying and being at Mpape Community and other building structures and facilities attached to the land in MPAPE in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja without strict compliance with the requirement of the applicable law.
“It is on record that your office did not appeal against this judgment which makes same final and binding on all the parties. It is therefore strange that COMRADE IKHARO ATTAH, acting under your instructions will announce to move into Mpape Community to demolish any structure therein under the guise of enforcing environmental sanitation.
“It is our believe that the Honourable Minister of the Federal Capital Territory has no intention of taking the law into his hands by disobeying an existing court judgment on Mpape Community. The Honourable Minister, who is an advocate of due process and respect for the rule of law and the judiciary, should take immediate steps to avert this planned demotion as same is targeted at tarnishing the Honourable Minister’s hard-earned reputation which is on the verge of being tainted by the actions of his overzealous subordinates whom may be working to impress him at all cost.
“It is the position of the law that a judgment of court is valid and binding on all parties to it unless and until same is set aside by a superior court of record. It is also the position of the law that when a party moves to circumvent the judiciary by disobeying a validly made and subsisting court judgment, the said party may be committing an act of contempt of court as well as taking the law into his hands by way of self help.
“It is on this basis, that we write this letter on the instructions of our client, to bring to your notice the existence of a subsisting court judgment on demolition of any structure in Mpape Community and to further stress that any act of demolition of any structure in Mpape Community by the Federal Capital Territory will amount to an act of contempt.
“Consequently, we demand that the Honourable Minister take steps to call COMRADE IKHARO ATTAH, his aide to order and direct him to halt the planned demolition of structures in Mpape Community as we have the firm instructions of our Clients to commence contempt proceedings should the planned demotion go on as planned in contravention of a subsisting court order.
We have attached to this letter a copy of the said judgment of the FCT High Court for your reference.”
Mpape is located on a high ground behind the posh Maitama District in Abuja. It is a quarry zone, with lots of construction companies mining quarry in the area.