A Bayelsa State High Court, sitting in Yenagoa, is hearing how the late state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, allegedly acquired 7.5 hectares of land belonging to the Adugotu family of Opolo, Yenagoa, using a company, Pescal Nigeria Limited.
Alamieyeseigha was said to have used his position as the state governor to take over the land from the claimants and allegedly allocated it to himself in the name of Pescal Nigeria Limited.
The current value of the land is said to be about N1bn.
The property is situated in a choice area of the state capital, by the junction of Commissioners’ Quarters Road and Isaac Boro Expressway, which is opposite the headquarters of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield.
The plaintiffs, Obidiah Yakie, Omoya Lagumo, on behalf of Diankume Lagumo for the Adugotu family, have dragged Pescal Nigeria Limited before High Court 6, Yenagoa, presided over by Judge D.E. Adokeme.
Joined in the suit No. YHC/13/2015 are Governor of Bayelsa State, state Ministry of Land and Survey, Yenagoa Capital City Development Authority and the Attorney-General of Bayelsa State.
The plaintiffs asked the court to declare the taking over of the land by the defendants and the allocation of same to PNL as not in the overriding public interest envisaged by law.
They are also seeking an order setting aside the taking over of the land by the defendants as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
They are praying the court to declare the “purported allocation of the land by the second to sixth defendants to the first defendant (Pescal Nigeria Limited) as unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”
They further urged the court to give an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants by themselves, their agents, servants and privies from disturbing the claimants in their use, ownership and possession of the land.
In a written statement on oath by one Diewulu Harold, he claimed that a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission in Abuja revealed that Pescal Nigeria Limited was not registered or incorporated in Nigeria.
Harold also said the land was allocated to members of the family for building of houses and farming before it was taken over by the defendants.
Harold added, “Bayelsa State Government deceived the claimants’ family members that the land was needed for the overriding public use by the government and paid for only the crops on the land without paying the claimants’ family members any form of compensation and took over the land.”
He also averred that the land in question had now been apportioned to food vendors and other artisans by officials of the company who also received rents on the land, which was surveyed with plan number YE.46 Tracing No: BS.88.
Harold stated in the statement that the purpose for which the land was being used was not in the overriding public interest and that the taking over of the land without payment of adequate compensation was “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.”
However, in their preliminary objection, the defendants said, “That in view of the facts of this case, as disclosed in their pleas, this suit is statute-barred, and thus, this court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain, hear and determine same.”
They contended that the claimants waited for over 15 years before going to court.