Nasir El-Rufai, the former minister of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja is being arraigned for irregular land allocation and abuse of office.
The Federal Capital Territory High Court on Thursday adjourned hearing to May 7 in a case of alleged irregular land allocation and abuse of office brought against a former Abuja Minister, Nasir El-Rufai by the EFCC.
The adjournment was to enable Mr. El-Rufai’s Counsel, Kanu Agabi, certify the document to be tendered.
Mr. Agabi had earlier craved the indulgence of the court to tender a copy of an agreement letter entered into by the Nigeria Postal Service, NIPOST, and Rosehill Group for the development of the post office site in Maitama.
The prosecution counsel, Adebayo Adelodun, opposed the admissibility of the document, saying the document was not properly tendered before the court.
“My lord, we oppose the admissibility of this document and the defence counsel ought to have certified this document before coming to court because you know what you are coming to defend in court.
“You should have certified your entire documents; so we oppose this,” Mr. Adelodun said.
Both counsel, however, agreed on a short adjournment after exhaustive argument on the admissibility of the document.
NIPOST witness testifies
At the resumed hearing, prosecution witness, Adeyeye Olu, who was a Deputy Post Master-General of NIPOST, told the court that plot 3350, which was formally known as plot 3776, located in Maitama District, belonged to NIPOST.
He said that NIPOST applied for and got allocation of the plot from the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in 1994.
“We went to FCDA and verified if the plot was allocated to any organisation before we applied and it was confirmed that the land was not allocated to anybody.
“We wrote application for allocation to the FCDA and we made all necessary payments, and in 1994, the plot was formally allocated to NIPOST.
“We submitted our certificate to FCDA for the approval of our building plan and paid all necessary fees; I have a copy of the approval slip and the payment slip of Aso savings,” he said.
He said that he had a copy of the application letter and the letter of allocation which the authority issued to NIPOST.
Mr. Olu further explained that the reason NIPOST was unable to develop the plot as at that time was as a result of economic down-turn experienced in the organisation.
“Although, year-in-year-out, government allocated funds to NIPOST for capital projects, but as a result of the economic down-turn, NIPOST did not develop the plot, rather it entered into an agreement with Rosehill Group of companies.
“Through a public private partnership arrangement, the company mobilised its men to the site, fenced the plot, sunk a bore-hole and built a four storey building,’’ he said.
He said that on January 6, 2006, he received a call that the said structure had been demolished.
“I call our legal adviser and quickly moved to the site, we met people and they told us that one System Property Development Construction Limited ordered them to demolish the place.
“We went to their office and met one woman who said that the plot was allocated to System Property Development Construction Limited and on Jan. 26, 2006; then we wrote a letter to the FCTA pleading for intervention.
“But later on, a messenger came from FCTA with a letter, saying that the plot was revoked,” Mr. Olu said.
The letter of revocation of the said plot as well as the petition which NIPOST wrote to the EFCC and the certified true copies of the documents were marked as exhibits 15, 16,(17a,b),18,19 and 21 respectively.
In his cross examination, Mr. Agabi referred the prosecution witness to exhibit 15, noting that the prosecution witness said NIPOST derived its title document from FCTA.
Mr. Agabi said the title document was dated 1994 not 2004 as he claimed.
He said that the document presented as exhibit 15 (i.e the letter of agreement between prosecution witness and Rosehill Group) was dated October 18, 2004 and not 2005.
Under cross examination, the witness admitted that NIPOST was obliged to build a post office on the land within two years of allocation but couldn’t. He also agreed that the terms of allocation forbade NIPOST from using the plot for any other purpose
The Presiding Judge, Abubakar Umar, then adjourned the case to May 7 for continuation of hearing.