The attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN) has advised the minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Senator Bala Mohammed to put on hold the planned demolition of houses in Mpape community in Abuja by the FCTA pending the determination of a suit by the residents against the demolition.
The AGF's advise was in a letter signed on his behalf by the solicitor-general of the federation and permanent secretary in the Justice Ministry, Mr. Abdullahi Yola.
Adoke added that it was imperative for the FCT minister to stay action in consonance with the administration's avowed commitment to the enthronement of the rule of law.
The AGF's advise was sequel to a petition by the lawyer to Mpape residents, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, asking the AGF to intervene because in spite of the court asking the parties to maintain the status quo, the FCT minister had threatened to go ahead with the demolition on August 31.
The AGF's letter dated August 16 said, "In the light of the self explanatory contents of the petition, I am to respectfully convey the advice of the Hon AGF that all proposed actions be stayed in respect of the subject matter pending the determination of the substantive suit and any appeal arising therefrom. This is in consonance with this administration's avowed commitment to the enthronement of the rule of law."
The AGF's intervention represents a turning point in the struggle of the Mpape residents to halt the demolition.
Meanwhile, a high court of the Federal Capital Territory yesterday granted leave to Falana to file the appeal.
Residents of Mpape asked the FCT minister to suspend the planned demolition of the area in a letter by their counsel, Falana, to the AGF dated August 16, saying it had become imperative to draw the AGF'S attention to the ruling of Justice Abubakar Kutigi of an Abuja High Court in Bwari on August 3, 2012 over the proposed demolition of their buildings.
The lawyer also urged the AGF to take judicial notice of the fact that the court had in its ruling ordered that no step should be taken by parties in the suit pending the final determination of the suit in order to prevent a situation where a fait accompli would be foisted on the court.
He said, "In his ruling, the learned trial judge at page 24 reiterated the fact thus "It is now trite principle of general application that parties including government agencies or institutions such as defendants have no right to take matters into their own hands once a matter is in court. This is very sound principle on which the rule of law and indeed the integrity of the judicial process is predicated."