By Femi Ogunshola
Abuja – An FCT High Court, Lugbe, on Thursday dismissed a suit challenging the ownership of a piece of land over the failure of the plaintiff to appear in court since 2015.
The court also awarded N20, 000 as cost against the plaintiff, Ecome Properties Ltd.
In her ruling, Justice Angela Otaluka held that the plaintiff repeatedly refused to appear in court after instituting the action against the defendant, Bazzor Ltd.
The judge said that this was why the case was dismissed.
Ecome Properties Ltd. had taken Bazzorp Ltd. to court for claiming ownership of Plot 620 and 621, Bangazo near Tungan Maji, Abuja in 2015.
But the judge said if the plaintiff had been present in court for an application for withdrawal where the defendant had not filed his own statement of defense, then the court could strike out the matter upon application granted.
Otaluka added that the court found itself in a situation whereby the plaintiff was not in court throughout its sitting to present a formal application for withdrawal.
In his submission, Counsel to the defendant, Mr Abubakar Animiokhali, however, said that Bazzorp Ltd. had been operating on the land and had developed it since 2003.
“My client has been on the land since 2003 and only for Ecome Properties Ltd. To come out that they are the owner, meanwhile Bazzorp Ltd. has the comprehensive map site of that land,’’ he said.
Animiokhali, however, said that it responded to the court summons served by the plaintiff, who refused to show up since 2015.
Meanwhile, the Counsel to the defendant had earlier asked the court to grant his client the sum of N2million damages.
He said that the judge had to bear in mind the cost of filing his defence, especially in the heat of the economic recession.
“We are asking for a cost of N2million but the Judge gave us N20, 000.
‘But we are happy with this dismissal now because it means they can only appeal against this judgment, they cannot re-file the case,” he said.
Animiokhali said that the plaintiff was looking for a way to ask the court to strike out the matter to enable them to come out better prepared for the case.
“So we waited for them and waited for this opportunity to make an application pursuant to Order 35 Rule 4 which enjoins the court to dismiss the case,’’ he said.
Mr Joshua Itishi, Counsel to the plaintiff, refused to counter the N20 million damages demanded by the plaintiff when the judge sought his opinion, adding that the plaintiff had been evasive.
He said that he was no longer interested in prosecuting the case because of his client’s incessant absence in the court.