As the ‘mosque demolition’ controversy in Port Harcourt rages on, the Rivers State government has released court rulings to back up their claim that it was a land dispute matter, not a religious clash.
The government said at no point was there any religious motive or cleansing in the matter of ‘mosque’ in Trans-Amadi, saying it was purely a land dispute issue in a land allegedly acquired by the Rivers State government through the Eastern Nigeria government as far back as 1959.
In the court ruling, a judge, S.O. Omereji of the Rivers High Court ruled that the disputed land at Rainbow Town in Port Harcourt belongs to the Rivers State Government. The case is between the Rivers State government as defendants and the ‘Registered Trustees of Trans-Amadi Mosque’, Port Harcourt, which had approached the court in February 2012, after the then Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi Administration had stopped them from erecting a structure on the disputed ‘Government land’ without approval.
The Rivers State Government in its Statement of Defence, had outlined its ownership of the land and spelt out that there was no approval given to the trustees to construct a Mosque on the disputed land.
In his judgment, Justice Omereji noted: “The Statement of Defence and the evidence of the defendant’s two witnesses show that the land, the subject matter of this suit is State Land acquired for public purpose by the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1959. The evidence also shows that the claimants had no approval from the Rivers State Government to make use of the said land, prior to the use of the land for any religious or other purposes and that the defendants did not destroy any property belonging to the claimants.
“The said area where the claimants used for religious activities falls within the area acquired by the Rivers State Government as in the Exhibit K. The evidence shows that the claimants acquired nothing from Chief Dr. Edward S. Amadi since Chief Edward S. Amadi cannot give what he does not have because the land in dispute has been acquired and has been State land since 1959”.
The court papers showed that the claim of over N502million by the claimants could not be sustained.