Gyellesu community in Zaria Local Government Area of Kaduna State, and the Nigerian Army and four others slugged it out, Wednesday at a grade II High Court, over failed promises and seizure of farmland.
The Chief of Army Staff, Yusuf Buratai; Commandant, Nigeria Military School, NMS, Zaria, Mohammed Muktar-Bunza; Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi; and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami are the second, third, fourth and fifth respondents in the suit.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the community resorted to legal action to retrieve a piece of farmland they claimed they inherited from their forefathers and which they claimed was forcefully seized by the Nigerian Army.
Although not made part of the law suit, it is understood that the grouse of the Gyellesu community also had to do with a failed promise by the army to cite some developmental projects in the community, which the residents believe the army has reneged.
The Nigerian army had in December 2015 shelled the Gyellesu neighborhood during the heinous attacks against members of the Islamic Movement. Several houses, especially around the residence of the leader of the Islamic Movement were totally destroyed in what the army had said was collateral damage.
During the hearing of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry instituted by Kaduna State government in 2016, some Gyellesu residents had hoped they will have some favourable compensation for their maximum cooperation in the war against the Shiites. However it was becoming glaringly clear that nothing has been voted for them. Instead, their farmlands, through which the army partly utilized in launching attacks on the Shiites, are being usurped.
At the mentioning of the case, counsel to the plaintiffs, Halima Olodo, told the court that the case “is slated today for mentioning.”
In his submission, Counsel to the Nigerian Army, second and third respondents, A. I. Omaji, told the court that they had already filed their response to the application for interlocutory injunction filed by the plaintiffs.
The Trial Judge, Justice Dabo, adjourned the case to March 11 for hearing of the interlocutory injunction.
In an interview, Mr Olodo said: “The case is slated for today for the respondents’ motion for extension of time within which to file their counter-affidavit and written address out of time and this was actually granted, so, we picked another date within which we can come back for hearing.
“The court had earlier granted us an order restraining the Nigerian Army from collecting the said piece of farmland from Gyellesu community.”
She added that the respondents did not forward their application on time, however, the court had granted the application for them to submit their papers before next sitting.
On his part, counsel to the respondents said: “What happened in court today is that we filed our response to the application for interlocutory injunction filed by the plaintiffs and by reason of that the court has now adjourned the case to 11th of March, 2020 for hearing of the interlocutory injunction,” he said.
The Gyellesu residents feel betrayed by the Nigerian Army for failing to keep their pledges and for tuning back to claim that farmland used mainly for irrigation by the residents belongs to its Chindit Cantonment.