A firm, Bedding Holdings Limited (BHL), and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sylvester Odigie, have sued a businessman, Alhaji Dahiru Barau Mangal, and his company, D. B. Mangal Nigeria Limited, at the the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
The plaintiffs are demanding over N20 billion for alleged loss of business.
Mangal, his company, the FCT Minister, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Jimec Company Limited and Matterson Properties Limited – owned by ex-Information Minister, Emeka Chikelu, are the defendants.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for alleged losses following false allegation of fraud made against them to the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) by Mangal and his firms over a 2005 land deal.
In their statement of claims, the plaintiffs stated that BHL, in 2005 sold Plot 527 Cadastral Zone A7, Wuse District of the FCT to Mangal and his company through their lawyer, Messrs Shehu Wada and Co., at N125 million.
The buyers, they added, paid for the land on October 26, 2005 following the outcome of their searches at some agencies, including the Department of Land Administration and Resettlement of the FCDA.
The plaintiffs said some months after the transaction when Mangal and his company wanted to begin development, they learnt that the FCDA had reallocated the plot to Chikelu and his firms.
Mangal and his firm demanded a refund from BHL, the plaintiff averred, stating that, in its bid to recover the land for Mangal and his company, BHL sued the FCT Minister, FCDA, Mangal and two companies owned by Chikelu, in a suit marked: FCT/HC/CV/1074/2006.
The plaintiffs added that despite the pendency of the suit, the EFCC, following a petition by Mangal and his company, arrested and detained Odigie from May 22 to July 12, 2006, following which he was arraigned before Justice Abubakar Umar of the FCT High Court for allegedly obtaining money under false pretence.
Justice Umar struck out the case on January 27, 2009 for want of diligent prosecution. Justice Ishaq Bello (also of the FCT High Court) later upheld Odigie’s fundamental rights enforcement suit, under which he challenged his detention by the EFCC for 57 days.
Justice Bello, in a January 15, 2009 judgment, declared EFCC’s conduct illegal, awarded N3million damages to Odigie, ordered the commission to apologise to him publicly and restrained the agency from further harassing, inviting or arresting him over the land deal.
The plaintiffs stated that while Odigie was in custody, the FCT Minister, upon Chikelu’s intervention, allocated plot 1405 Zambezi Crescent, Off Aguiyi Ironsi, Zone A05, Maitama to Mangal and his company as compensation for the plot BHL sold to them, but which was wrongly revoked and allocated to Chikelu’s firms.
They said, at a point, Chikelu, who claimed to have spent about N300million in the development of the Wuse plot, appealed to them to withdraw the suit challenging the purported revocation of BHL’s right to Plot 527 Cadastral Zone A7, Wuse District.
The plaintiffs stated that, on realising that Mangal and his firm had been compensated with “a bigger” land, BHL acceded to Chikelu’s request and withdrew its case in April 2014 after Chikelu paid BHL N150million as cost of the suit and lawyers’ fees among others, in line with the agreement signed by parties as condition for them to discontinue the suit.
Odigie and BHL, said they were surprised that after withdrawing the suit, Mangal and his firm came back to demand a refund of what they paid for the Wuse land on which Chikelu’s firm has erected a shopping mall called Omega Centre.
The plaintiffs said they were willing to refund the N125million, but on the condition that Mangal and his firm give up Plot 1405 Zambezi Crescent, Off Aguiyi Ironsi, Zone A05, Maitama (on which Mangal has now erected a shopping mall called Murjanatu House) which was allocated to Mangal and his firm as a replacement for the Wuse land.