Land Dispute: Lawyer Drags Justice Commissioner ,Police to Court over Arrest of Client during Peace Meeting in Kaduna
… There was such meeting, but don’t have details yet-Director Public Prosecution
…I am aware of the meeting, but was absent-Solicitor-General
…I left the meeting as soon as it ended, so am not aware of any arrest- Counsel to Crown Flour Mills
Kaduna State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as well as the Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State Command have been dragged to court by a lawyer for allegedly arresting and detaining his client at a peace meeting in Kaduna government house to resolve a land dispute.
The Chief Judge of Kaduna State has assigned the case to Justice Mairo Mohammed of High Court 2 which is fixed for August 5 for hearing in a Suit No. KDH/KAD/640/2019.
According to lawyer Reuben Atabor, counsel to Alhaji Umar Mohammed Farouk, whose company acquired about 209 hectares of land at Kaduna-Abuja expressway and developed the farmland about 20 years ago, but was allegedly forcefully taken over by the Kaduna State government.
Atabor said the government gave the disputed farmland to Crowns Flour Mills Ltd, a private limited liability company.
This development, according to him, made his client to be aggrieved, but the State government promised to give him alternative land in 2017 to no avail.
Farouk’s counsel added that when the State government failed on its promise, his client decided to take the matter to court in a suit number KDH/KAD/1146/2017 before Justice Hanatu Balogun.
In the available documents, it was noted that Farouk was given the Certificate Of Occupancy (C/O) on March 2nd, 2012 by the Kaduna State government, while Crown Flour Mills was issued C of O for the same land on March 16th, 2016.
“The defendants in that case, which involved the State governor and five others, approached my client for settlement out of court. The first meeting was held in government house and Kaduna State government as well as Crown Flour Mills proposed to pay my client certain amount of money.
“However, the parties could not agree on the amount and a meeting was fixed to the 22nd day of May, 2019 to harmonise the position. This meeting of 22nd May, 2019 could not hold.
“The State government through Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice thereafter invited the applicant through me (his counsel) for a meeting on 23rd day of July, 2019 at government house, Kaduna and my client honoured the invitation.
“The meeting, however, ended in dead-lock and when my client left the meeting, he was arrested and detained in a room at government house.
“After some hours of detention at the government house, Kaduna, Farouk was taken to the ministry of Justice, Kaduna in a bus with police officers at about 1.30 pm.
“And after about 30 minutes at the ministry of Justice, he was taken to Special Investigation Bureau (SIB) at the police headquarters, Kaduna.
“It is against this background that my client put up application in court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights”. Lawyer Atabor stated.
However, when contacted by our correspondent, Kaduna State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dari Bayero said, “There was such meeting, but I don’t have the details yet, and I will give you the details as soon as I get it”.
But at the time of filing this report, Bayero did not get back to our Correspondent for details.
Also contacted, is the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, ministry of justice, Chris A.Umar who wrote the invitation letter on behalf of the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice for the July 23 meeting.
According to Umar, “I am aware of the meeting, but I was in Abuja on the day of the meeting”.
When the Counsel to Crown Flour Mills, Mr. Olusola Idowu (SAN) was equally contacted, he said, “I left the meeting as soon as it ended, so am not aware of any arrest”.
Meanwhile, the invitation letter for July 23 meeting read in part, “Re: Suit No. KDH/KAD/1146/2017. Ummah Investment Vs Governor of Kaduna State and 5 others. Invitation Letter. You will recall that parties in the above mentioned suit have held several meetings with a view to amicably resolving the dispute out of court and as a result of which proposed terms of settlement was started and exchanged. In view of the above, you are cordially invited to attend a meeting with your client to discuss the proposed terms of settlement and observations raised by parties scheduled to hold as follows: July 23, 2019, 10.00 am, venue: Office of the senior Adviser and Counsellor, Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Government House, Kaduna”.