Street Liability Offences: Court Fines Over 500 Owner Occupiers

A Mobile Court sitting in Abuja Nigeria’s capital has fined over five hundred occupants of flats around the Area axis of the nation’s capital N20,000 each or serve one-month imprisonment after been found guilty for committing street liability offences.

The Magistrate, Abdullahi Ilela said the defendants were found guilty of flaunting the abatement notice issued them by the FCT Department of Development Control since July 2021 for failing to comply with the 2006 agreement entered with the occupants of the building to renovate and decorate such structures periodically.

Magistrate Ilela, said after cross-examining the matter, the court had found the defendants guilty of street liability offence and fined them N20,000 each or spend one month in prison after failing to met the  21 days notice from the date of issuance of the notice served to them on 13th July, 2021.

The Magistrate said such action was in line with the agreement reached with the occupants in 2007 to renovate and redecorate their entire block premises as well as remove illegal structures and repair all soiled pipes and sewage.

Ilela noted that the offence contravenes Section 17, Subsection 1A and B, Paragraph 8, and Section 35, Subsection 1 paragraph 2, of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board AEPB) Act, 1997.

Speaking to journalists after the judgement, the Prosecuting Counsel, Udeme Umana, said Part of the sales agreement requires the “owner-occupiers” to carry out periodic renovations and decoration of the buildings sold to them by the Federal Government in 2006/2007.

According to him, “The defendants have been found guilty of failing to comply with the notice that was served on them to redecorate the building and take care of the soiled pipes on their building and then remove the illegal structures.

“They have admitted that they are guilty and the court has sentenced them and because of the admission of guilt, the court has been lenient on them and sentenced them to pay a fine of N20,000 each.

“The Court has also given them three weeks to comply with that notice and if they fail at the expiration of that three weeks the court may give them a severe penalty than what it has given now.”

Reacting to the judgement, the Acting Director of the FCT Department of Development Control, Tpl. Garba Kwamkur, said the department was forced to drag the occupants to court after series of notices and meetings held with the residents urging them to repaint their premises as prescribed in the sales agreement.

He said the department may have no choice but to write to the Minister to revoke the sales agreement and reallocate to developers willing to properly maintain the properties following the beneficiaries non-compliance to parts of the agreement entered in 2006.

According to the director, “Most of these houses were sold as government houses, to civil servants and those occupying it. Within the contract terms of sale agreement, they were supposed to keep these houses in good condition.

“They should’nt be any form of commercial activities within the residential area. As you can see, the environment is very dirty and filthy. We have served them a lot of contravention notices over time for them to keep these houses in good condition but they have failed. We even called them for a meeting to tell them the standard to which the houses should be kept. As you can see, all our advises to them have fell on deaf ears. That’s why we approached the court. 

“In the event that the do not honour the court rulings, our next line of action would be to write to the FCT Minister that most of the occupants of these houses are not keeping to the terms and condition of those houses, and he may wish to revoke the sell agreement and then these houses can be auctioned to any serious developer or any serious citizen who is ready to keep it in line with the Abuja standards.

“If they fail us, I tell you, we don’t have any other choice than to write to the minister to revoke that sales agreement,” he threatened.

Kwamkur claimed that the affected premises have been left unattended and dilapidated due to years of negligence.

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