The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Lagos, has fixed May 17 for hearing in a suit filed by residents of the Nigeria Customs Quarters in the Federal Housing Estate (Gowon Estate), Ipaja in Alimosho Council Area against the government’s committee on the sale of such property.
More than 192 residents have jointly and severally sued the Presidential Implementation Committee on Federal Government’s Landed Property and the Nigeria Customs Service.
The residents are contesting what they called clandestine moves by an “influential Nigerian” to get the committee to eject them and acquire the blocks of flats built some 40 years ago and named after former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
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 under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo advertised the sale of its residential properties across the country including Lagos, first to sitting tenants.
The immediate past Comptroller-General of Customs, Alhaji Abdulahi Diko Inde, had on Dec. 23, 2015 directed the Lagos Zonal Office of Customs to eject the officers both serving and retired by Dec. 31, 2015 via a circular NCS/ENF/ABJ/113/S.174 titled “Administration and harmonization of quarters/barracks allocation.”
The circular was signed by Ag. Deputy Comptroller-General, Dan Ugo.
The move is a contravention of Federal Government’s policy removing its hands from owning and maintaining staff quarters.
Federal agencies in the estate that have benefitted from the sale of such houses include the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Federal Housing Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), 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 Customs from making moves to re-acquire the quarters already relinquished by the government.
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