A real estate firm, Livingstone Estate in the Igboo-Etche area of Rivers State has demolished buildings owned by Chief Kemakolam Nwanuo and 18 others, asking them to leave their ancestral land.
The demolition occurred after Justice Augusta Kingsley-Chuku gave a judgement against the landowners.
The execution of the court order was enforced by the joint efforts of the tactical unit of the Rivers State Police Command, Nigerian Army and state judicial officials, against people who built structures on the land Livingstone Estate is claiming for itself. This is despite a stay of execution issued by the Court of Appeal on the matter.
Speaking in an interview, counsel for the claimant, Augustine Akwarandu said the action of the court and security agencies revealed that Livingstone Estate has taken over the property in question.
He added that the initial court order had not been vacated by any other court with competent jurisdiction.
He warned people who have the intention to buy or build in the said estate to desist from doing such, saying it will be unlawful.
“The court that has the first instance to hear any matter in respect of stay of execution of any judgement is the court of first instance.
“That application should be filed at the court of first instance, thereafter it can proceed to Court of Appeal. None was filed, none was served on the claimant judgement creditor, none was served at the court, none was to the Sheriff’s office.
“We all know the process of executing court judgement; it is a valid one and the officers acted in respect of what the court ordered. The claimant searched diligently to know if there was any pending application in respect to this particular judgement order and found that there was none,” Akwarandu said.
Also, Nwanuo the 1st Defendant said they have secured a stay of execution on the judgement delivered by Justice Kingsley-Chuku on the matter, maintaining that they have served it on the parties.
Justice Chuku is the same judge that gave the ruling against human rights lawyer Chidi Odinkalu (human rights activist) and Ayisha Osori (author) in that defamation suit filed by a former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili.
He, however, emphasised that they have secured a judgement from a customary court that has not been vacated.
“They have not appealed that judgement till date, they went back to a high court through Justice Kingsley-Chuku and secured a purported judgement. We have appealed the judgement and served on them a stay of execution since January 2021; how will they come to demolition property when there is no court order?
“We served them the processes through the same way they served us. We have served the OC legal, the state High Court,” Nwanuo said.
The execution of the court ruling has invited tension in the area, which made the Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Friday Eboka, to invite the parties involved to his office at the Police Headquarters, Moscow Road in Port Harcourt.