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Friday, July 12, 2024

Abuja property developer loses bid to stop N1.10Bn suit on contract breach

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By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja.

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Gudu, Abuja has insisted on prompt hearing of a N1.10billion suit brought against a property developer, Otunba Adeniyi Olafisoye and two others.

The two others are A & G Estate Development Company Limited (owned by Olafisoye) and the African University of Science and Technology (AUST).

In a ruling on Wednesday, Justice Modupe Osho-Adebiyi dismissed an application by Olafisoye and his firm in which they prayed the court to stay further proceedings pending the determination of their appeal before the Court of Appeal.

Justice Osho-Adebiyi held that the application was unmeritorious because the applicants failed to show that they had a valid appeal and that there was special and exceptional circumstances to make the court exercise it’s description in their favour.

The judge noted that the order for cost earlier made by the court, which the applicants claimed to have appealed, was not directed at them but at their lawyer, who was to pay in person.

She then adjourned till May 24 for the hearing of the substantive suit marked: CV/328/2022 filed by aggrieved subscribers to the A & G Estste’s Nelson Mandela Estate project in Abuja.

In the suit filed by the subscribers, through six of their representatives, they accused Olafisoye and A & G Estate Ltd, among others, of breaching the terms and conditions contained in the letters of offer issued to them.

They contended that Olafisoye and A & G Estate have refused to keep their promise to provide necessary facilities in the estate, declined to execute deeds of sub-lease of the unexpired terms granted A & G Estate Ltd by African University of Science and Technology and had attempted to alter the name of the estate.

The aggrieved subscribers are praying the court to compel Olafisoye and
A & G Estate Ltd to comply with their terms of agreement and pay them N1.10billion in damages and cost of prosecuting the case.

Listed as claimants are Mrs. A. N. Ijadunola, Alhaji Yusuf Yahaya, Mr. John Mshelia, Mr. Gabriel Afolabi, Mr. Akeem Atanda, Mr. Festus Ojekhephen and the Registered Trustees of Nelson Mandela Gardens Residents Association, Abuja.

The claimants, in their statement of claim, described Olafisoye, who they claimed owns A & G Insurance Plc, as an individual with “an unimpressive and sordid track records in his business or commercial dealings”.

They claimed to have subscribed to the estate project between 2013 and 2019, and that soon after they “entered into the contractual relationship with the 2nd defendant (A & G Estate Ltd) they realized that they had been sold a dummy by the defendants, as the defendants, in a most bizarre manner, kept frustrating the claimants.”

They claimed to have complied with the terms and conditions contained in their various letters of offer by, amongst others, paying fully for the various allocated houses.

The claimants stated that the 2nd defendant, in alleged connivance with the 1st defendant (Olafisoye), failed to abide by the terms and conditions contained in the said letters of Offer.

They further stated that after receiving from them full payments in respect of the various allocated units of houses, the 2nd defendant unapologetically declined to provide any of the facilities or amenities it promised to provide in the estate

The claimants added that part of the effects of the alleged continuous and unjustified refusal of the 2nd defendant to provide essential social facilities it promised, has exposed their lives, those of their families and their properties to great risk and jeopardy.

They stated that till date, the exact tenor or term of the lease, donated to them by the 2nd defendant has been kept away from them because the 2nd and 3rd defendants have been unwilling to disclose “the accurate tenor in the head lease and by extension, the sub-lease between the 2nd and 3rd defendants.”

They want the court to among others, compel A & G Estate Ltd “to forthwith make available to the claimants, their various and respective duly executed deeds of sub -lease of the unexpired term granted to the 2nd defendant by the 3rd defendant in respect of Nelson Mandela Gardens Estate situate at Industrial Area II, Abuja.”

They are also seeking for an injunction restraining the property owner from changing the name of the estate to Steamwood Garden, and to desist from collecting any form of money from the claimants under the guise that it would be used for development purposes.

They are claiming N1billion in damages and N10m as cost of prosecuting the suit.

The defendants have however denied the claimants claims, insisting that they did nothing wrong.

In their joint statement of defence, Olafisoye and A & G Estate Ltd claimed to have provided a number of facilities but that their plan to do more was hampered by the alleged inability of some of the subscribers to fully pay for their houses.

AUST in its statement of defence stated that it was not privy to the contractual agreement between the claimants and the 2nd defendant. It blamed the subscribers for not exercising due diligence before subscribing to the project.

The 3rd defendant also queried the competence of the suit, arguing among others that it amounted to an abuse of court process and that it was caught by statute of limitation.

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