The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has ordered the late former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieseigha, and his wife, Margaret, to vacate a piece of land measuring 5336.919 square metres at Ovom area of the state.
The court order was contained in a judgement delivered by Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua in an appeal instituted by Stodie Ventures Limited against Alamieyeseigha and his wife, Margaret.
The late former governor and his wife are enmeshed in several cases of alleged land grabbing, including a dispute involving a choice parcel of land located at the Government Reserved Area layout along Otiotio Road in Yenagoa metropolis.
Stodie is a company owned by Dr. Bolere Ketebu, former President of the National Council of Women Society, former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ireland and erstwhile member of the House of Representatives.
The case was filed for the firm by Doueyi Fiderikumo, the Managing Solicitor of D.D. Fiderikumo & Co.
The company had dragged Alamieyeseigha and his wife to court in a 2011 suit filed in the state High Court challenging their occupation of the said land and praying the court to declare it (Stodie) the rightful owner of the land.
Stodie also prayed the court to restrain the late former governor and his wife, their servants and agents from committing further act of trespass on the parcel of land and demanded N100m damages for trespass.
But in 2012, the High Court dismissed the suit on the grounds that Stodie failed to prove its case by credible evidence as required of it by law.
But the company filed a notice of appeal on March 29, 2012 asking the court to set aside the judgement of the lower court and to uphold its prayers.
The appeal court panel, comprising Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua, Justice Stephen Adah and Justice Bitrus Sanga, declared that the trial court erred in its judgement.
A copy of the judgement, which was read by Orji-Abadua, said: “It is thoroughly reprehensible that the first defendant who was the governor of Bayelsa State as of the time the said compulsory acquisition was made seemingly for an overriding public interest, later allocated the said land to himself and his wife, who was then First Lady of Bayelsa State.
“No government or individual has any right to acquire land compulsorily and alienate or transfer it to another private individual or body for his or its private use.
“I would rather say in passing that the purpose for which the government can compulsorily acquire lands are clearly defined in the Act and do not include acquisition for the purpose of making a grant to a third party.”
The Justice noted that the respondents (late Alamieyeseigha and his wife) made no efforts to join the state government as a party and were unable to prove that the compulsory acquisition complied with all the relevant laws.
But Fiderukumo said the family of the deceased former governor has yet to comply with the judgement, noting that there were no records to show that Margaret (Alamieyeseigha’s wife) took the matter to the Supreme Court.
He said they had written to the police seeking their assistance in the execution of the Appeal Court’s judgement.