By Godwin Edeh and Martin Iyonguvihi
A Makurdi High Court, presided over by Justice Samson Itodo has granted interlocutory injunction, restraining the Nigerian Air force (NAF) Tactical Air Command, Makurdi from further activities and trespasses or activities on the disputed Ugondo community land in Makurdi.
The injunction further restrained the respondents which also included the Chief of Air Staff, NAF Headquarters Abuja, AOC among others from erecting a fence round the disputed land and any acts of destruction of farmlands, crops, economic trees and houses, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit and the order of the court for the respondents to revert to the earlier status-quo as at the time of instituting the motion.
However, in opposing the application, the defendants filed a counter affidavit opposing the motion of notice dated 10 November, 2020 which Justice Itodo stated that, instead of moving along the facts of the motion, the defendants counsel turned his attention to pleading in the statement of claim, upon which he formed issues and so can not be said to be any counter affidavit.
Therefore, in his ruling, Justice Itodo stated that, as laudable as the rationale for taking the above steps which is the object of remedy sought to protect the threatened or continuous invasion of an established legal rights, citing Azuh Vs Union Bank PLC (2014) page 60 NSCQR,498,499.
Justice Itodo said, even though, the applicant needs the protection of the Nigerian Air Force Base, Makurdi, it must however, be weighted against the respondent to be protected, as injury resulting from the Air force having prevented the Ugondo community from exercising their rights and are not adequately compensated as a result of the damages of the uncertainty were later resolved.
Stating that the Nigerian Air Force has gone beyond and outside the area of the land donated to them in 1977 as contained in the survey plan and has forcefully taken over the ancestral land of the Ugondo community, erecting fence beyond the land donated to them. (NAF BASE MAKURDI)
In view of the above facts, Justice Itodo ordered the NAF Base Makurdi to reverse back to the earlier status-quo (where fence was not erected) pending the determination of the matter.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Chief Caroline Ekpendu Esq told The Voice that she has applied for pre trial and all the processes have been made while pleading has been closed.
As at the time of filing this report, all efforts to reach the Nigerian Air Force Base Makurdi command Public Relations Officer, Wing Commader Christopher Erondu failed as he could neither pick his calls or respond to the text message.