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Illegal Buildings: Court Denies Tony Kabaka Adun Extension of Restraining Order

A Benin High Court has refused to grant the prayer of one Tony Kabaka Adun seeking an extension of the initial 14-day restraining order, which temporarily stopped the Edo State Government from removing his illegal building earlier marked for demolition.

The court presided over by Justice D. I. Okungbowa yesterday declined the request by Mr. Adun’s lawyer, U.L Osa-Uwagie, during a first-day sitting on the case.

The judge refused the prayer of the claimant on the basis of the counter argument of the Edo State Solicitor General, Oluwole Iyamu (SAN), who insisted that the order cannot be extended beyond the fourteen days lifespan, adding, “it is tidier for both parties to return to court on the 14th day to argue the motion for interlocutory injunction.”

The court, however, adjourned the case to 5th November, 2019 to hear further arguments on the motion for interlocutory injunction.

The State Government had on 9th October, through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, issued a seven-day notice to Tony Adun to remove his T. Latifah Hotel and Suites, located at the Ugbor axis of the State capital.

But Mr. Adun had approached the High Court seeking an order of interim injunction restraining the Commissioner, the Governor, Attorney General and Edo Government from demolishing, removing, pulling down or altering the building. The application was granted and the court fixed 30th October, 2019 as a return date.

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In his interlocutory application, Osa-Uwagie argued that the State Government did not declare the area, Ugbor, as a planning area and did not gazette it according to the Town and Country Planning Law of Bendel State 1979, CAP 165, section 6. He also claimed that the state governor was witch-hunting his client as a result of their political differences.

The State Government, through the Solicitor General, however, argued that “the deed of transfer attached to the motion by Mr. Tony Kabaka Adun and his lawyer was not registered with the state government and that he doesn’t have an approved building plan for the hotel building.  The entire Edo State is a Planning Area as declared and gazetted by the former governor Comr. Adams Oshiomhole, with Gazette No 22, published 27th May, 2010. Hence, the entire Benin City is a planning area, which affirms that the hotel is an illegal structure”.

The defendant who said it would be in the best interest of justice for the motion for injunction to be dismissed, said Governor Obaseki does not have any sort of political differences with the claimant as alleged.

Recall that the state government recently commenced removal of illegal structures erected on government property, including public schools and waterways as well as roof extensions and structures erected on the right of way of roads/streets, moats, river banks, TCN high tension lines, among others in Benin City and other major settlements in the state.

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Commissioner of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Erimona Oye Edorodion explained that the exercise became necessary to address the challenge of poor living and working environment and incessant cases of flooding in urban centres, adding, “The exercise will involve development control activities to ensure that illegal structures which are poorly constructed and wrongly sited are removed.

“It will also ensure that developments engaged in the unlawful discharge of sewage, and industrial wastes into our environment are sanctioned. This is in accordance with the provisions of the State’s Extant Town Planning and Environmental Laws and Regulations and to ensure safe living and working environment.

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