The Supreme Court has been urged to reverse the April 7, 2022 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Kano ceding to individuals and firms allegedly associated with the Dantata family part of the about 5.743 hectares at City Centre, Kano allocated to Durbar Hotels Ltd.
The prayer is contained in a notice of appeal filed in the name of Durbar Hotel by the family of the later General Sani Abacha through its lawyer, Dr. Reuben Atabo (SAN).
In the six-grounds notice of appeal, the appellant argued among others, that the Court of Appeal panel consisting Justices Boloukuromo Ugo, Ita Mbaba and Abubakar Lamido erred when it partially upheld its earlier appeal against the March 6, 2018 judgment of the High Court of Kano State in a suit marked; K/483/2006.
It listed the individuals and firms allegedly associated with the Dantata family to include Alhaji Aminu Dantata, International Services Nigeria Ltd, Niger Soap Factory Ltd, Bebeji Aluminium Industry Ltd, Dantata Investments & Security Ltd, Nigeria Reptiles Exporters Ltd, Namco Nigeria Ltd and John Mengulsolou Ltd.
Others are Alhassan Dantata and Sons Ltd, Sea Dantainer Lines Ltd, Alhassan Dantata and Sons Merchandise Ltd, Sharad Engineering Industries Ltd, Bulk Commodities Nig Ltd, Main Line Transport Ltd and Dantata Motors Ltd.
The Abacha family had sued at High Court of Kano in 2006, claiming that the land originally allocated to the Federal Government for the construction of Durbar Hotel, was later acquired by it during its privatisation in 1993 by the Federal Government’s Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation (TCPC).
It stated that before it could commence the development of the land, Kasaba United Ltd, Cityscope Properties Ltd and Mohammed Sani encroached on the land, which informed its suit in 2006 filed in the name of Durbar Hotel.
The family further claimed that during the pendency of the suit at the High Court, Kano, the named individuals and firms linked to the Dantata family equally encroached on the land, claiming to have got their allocations from the state government through the Commissioner for Land and Physical Development and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
In its judgment on March 6, 2018, the High Court in Kano held that although the plaintiff established that the individuals and firms associated with the Dantata family had two certificates of occupancy (CoO) issued in 1983 and 2008 in respect of the same plots of land, the plaintiff failed to prove fraud beyond reasonable doubt.
The Kano High Court further held that the plaintiff established its case against Kasaba, Cityscope and Mohammed Sani, voided their claim to any portion of the land, but declared that the plaintiff failed in its case against the individuals and firms linked to the Dantata family.
The trial court found that one of the C of O issued in 1983 to the individuals and firms associated with the Dantata family was earlier in time that the one issued to Durbar Hotel in 1995, but added that fact that another set of C of O was issued in 2008 on the same plots of land did not amount to fraud.
Upon an appeal by the Abacha family, the Court of Appeal, Kano in its April 7, 2022 judgment in the case marked: CA/K/42/2018 affirmed the decision of the High Court in Kano and partially allowed the appeal, a decision that has now been appealed at the Supreme Court.
In one of the grounds of appeal, the Abacha family argued that the Court of Appeal erred in law when it held that the appellant’s averment that the land was allocated to it in 1979 was not backed by documents.
It noted that from the averments of the respondents, they all admitted the allocation of the land in dispute in 1979 in favour of the appellant.
The appellant also faulted the Appeal court for agreeing with the trial court that the issuance of two sets of C of O in favour of the individuals and firms associated with the Dantata family in respect of the same plots did not constitute fraud.
“The issuance of two sets of C ofO in respect of the. same plot of land by the 2nd and 3rd respondents (the Commissioners for Land and Justice) is not within the contemplation of the provisions of the Land Use Act.
“The learned Justices of the lower court erred in law when they affirmed the judgment of the trial court that by the doctrine of priority of interest, the 6th, 8, – 21 respondents’ C of O were earlier in time than that of the appellant.
“The doctrine of priority of interest could not have availed or inure in favour of the respondents having regard to the issuance of the two sets of C of O issued in 1983 and 2008 over the same plots, bearing the same certificate numbers and names of holders without the revocation of the 1983 certificates,” the appellant said.