A High Court sitting in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital, has again postponed judgement over a matter brought before it by building materials traders challenging the alleged directive/ plans of the state government to evacuate them and demolish their shops.
The traders at the Building Materials and Aluminium Market located along Afikpo Road, Abakaliki, had on April 3 dragged the state government to court over the latter’s alleged move to demolish their shops.
The government had reportedly notified the traders to vacate their shops as it had plans to reconstruct the market and give it a new look in compliance with its policy on urban renewal and development.
DAILY POST gathered that the government had written letters to the traders through the office of the Commissioner for Special Projects, notifying them of its intention to procure the services of a construction company to commence the demolition of all shops in the market which would commence anytime from April 1.
But piqued by the move, the traders approached the state High Court, Abakaliki, to obtain an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the state government or its agents from disturbing them from using the shops pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The matter was instituted by Chigbogu Nwite in a suit number HAB\43\2019 between Mr Chigbogu Nwite,Fredrick Odanwu, Dennis Orsuahala, Benneth Nwosu, Chief Anosike P.E and Christian Okafor, the plaintiffs sued for themselves and on behalf of all concerned members of the market.
They are being represented by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Anthony Ani SAN, and a team of other lawyers.
The state government and the state attorney-general are the defendants.
The applicants, in the suit, alleged that the plots of land they are occupying were duly acquired from Abakaliki Local Government Council, and that some bought the spaces while others are on lease up to 2030, 2040, 2050 etc but were said to be forcefully ejected by the state government without due process.
The presiding judge, Justice Vincent Nwancho, openly apologised to parties to the dispute for the inability of the court to deliver judgment on the matter, explaining that exigencies of the office and other official commitment affected the judgment delivery. He then adjourned till September 16 due to non readiness of the judgement .
Nwancho said: “I am unable to complete the written work on the judgment due to exigencies of office and other official commitment hence court will adjourn to Sept 16 for judgment.”
The judgment, which was earlier fixed for July 10, was adjourned to July 29 for judgment but was further adjourned to Sept 16 due to the non-readiness of judgment.
Barrister Clement Aiyamekhue, who represented Chief Anthony Ani (SAN) and lead counsel to the plaintiffs, told journalists that the court was unable to complete the written work on the judgment and hence had to adjourn to a later date.
“The matter for today was for judgment but unfortunately the judgment could not be delivered owing to the fact that the Judge informed the court that he just returned from Abuja and has not been able to put together everything that he needed to do.
“He has in his good wisdom appealed that a date be taken and that we have done and it was accordingly adjourned to Sept 16.
“I urge the plaintiffs to be calm; a date has been taken, and we will be in court on that date for the judgment to be delivered”, Aiyamekhue said.
He however dismissed fears of possible manipulation of the court by the government, saying that the judge explained reasons for the adjournment which he said were normal and human factor.