By AFAM Echi
It was victory for justice last week when an Owerri High Court sealed the mega Empire Filling Station located at Aba road following a court judgment entered against the Imo State government November last year.
The High Court presided over by Justice N.B. Ukoha had on November 28, 2019 ruled that the plaintiff, Dr. Philip Njemanze, carrying on business under the name and style of Chidicon Medical Centre is the holder of the statutory right of occupancy of the land on which the gas station was situated.
The judge also ruled that the purported revocation or determination of the statutory right of occupancy is null and void.
Paragraph 4 of the Court Order read that ”the defendants, their servants, agents, officers and hirelings in whatever manner are hereby PERPETUALLY RESTRAINED from entering or further trespassing on the plaintiff’s property known as plot C parcel B subject of Certificate of Occupancy dated 19/1/1995 and registered as 46/46/308 of the lands registry Owerri in consequence of a purported order of revocation dated 24/5/2013”
The 5th and 6th defendants were fined to pay the sum of N5m to the plaintiff. It would be recalled that sometimes in 2013 Dr. Philip Njemanze had taken out an action against the governor of Imo State, the Attorney-General of Imo State, the Commissioner Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, Imo State Government, Hon Robertson Ekwebelem, Royal Rondele Nigeria ltd for unlawfully revoking the right to his property.
Njemanze had earlier informed that what precipitated the governor’s action was the role he played in getting the government to repeal the obnoxious abortion law which he said he used his position as Chairman of the Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria and Chairman of the African Anti-Abortion Coalition to mobilize public resentment against the bill.
In his words, “as a reprisal for Dr Njemanze’s anti-abortion activities, the IMSG under governor Okorocha confiscated the land site of the building of the New Chidicon Medical Center Ultra-Modern Hospital.
“The hospital site was demolished and repurposed for a filling station later known as Empire Energy Station on Owerri-Aba Road, Naze. The High Court holden at Owerri in HOW 919/2013 on 28th November, 2019 reverted the ownership to me. The COVID-19 lockdown delayed the execution of the judgment until today 5th August 2020.
“At the long run it has been shown that nobody is higher than the law. The Justices have proved that this is Nigeria and there is justice in Nigeria. I am happy that in the long run the poor man whom I represent will find justice in the Nigeria judiciary. It is a good day for Imo people. It is a good day for justice. I will tell Imo people to have faith in the judiciary. There are honourable justices who will read the law and interpret it no matter who is involved,” he concluded.