Home » FCT Minister Hires Top Lawyers to Tackle 800 Lawsuits

FCT Minister Hires Top Lawyers to Tackle 800 Lawsuits

Nyesom Wike says he engaged top lawyers because of lack of diligent prosecution by FCT officials in the past

by Victor Adetimilehin

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike, has defended his decision to hire Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to handle 800 lawsuits involving the administration. He said this on Wednesday while presenting the FCT’s N61bn supplementary budget before the National Assembly Committees on the FCT.

Wike said he resorted to engaging SANs because of the lack of diligent prosecution of cases in the past by FCT officials, which led to the loss of numerous cases. He also alleged that some FCTA staff colluded with plaintiffs to get judgments against the FCT Administration.

The minister said the budget components were project-specific and that most of them, including the Abuja Metro Line, would be inaugurated by President Bola Tinubu by May as part of the activities marking the president’s one year in office.

Wike also said he was working with the Office of the National Security Adviser and the State Security Services (SSS) to provide Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in strategic parts of the city to enhance security. He said the FCT Administration would revive the city’s mass transit system to eliminate cases of “one chance” and that private operators would undergo security vetting before being allowed into the system.

On the issue of demolition of illegal structures, Wike said Nigerians could not desire a world-class federal capital territory and then make excuses for unplanned and illegal developments. He said illegality was illegality and that the FCT Administration would not compensate those who built in green areas. He, however, said if the FCT Administration wanted to acquire any property for development, it would pay the owners.

Wike also vowed to cancel some Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements entered into by the FCT Administration with some private developers, saying those arrangements had been used to fleece the administration of billions in the past.

The FCT Minister’s decision to hire SANs has sparked mixed reactions from the public. Some have praised him for taking a bold step to protect the interests of the FCT Administration, while others have criticised him for wasting public funds on expensive lawyers.

According to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the average fee for a SAN is N5m per case, which means the FCT Administration would spend N4bn on legal fees for the 800 lawsuits. The NBA also said there were many competent lawyers in the FCT who could handle the cases at a lower cost.

The FCT Administration has been facing a barrage of lawsuits from individuals and groups over various issues, such as land disputes, compensation claims, contract breaches, human rights violations, and environmental degradation. Some of the cases have been pending for years, while others have resulted in unfavourable judgments against the FCT Administration.

The FCT Administration has said it is committed to resolving the legal challenges and ensuring the smooth running of the federal capital territory. It has also appealed to the public to cooperate with its policies and programmes aimed at making Abuja a model city in Africa.

Source: Punch


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