How District Head Of Miango Allegedly Defrauded Us By Leasing Our Land To MTN Without Our Knowledge, 4 Four Miango Families Tell Court
The District Head of Miango in, Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau state, Chief Daniel Chega has been dragged to court by four Miango families of alleged defrauding them of their lands by allegedly collecting N2.5 million without giving them, the money which was meant for land compensation paid by the MTN to site a mast on their land.
Chief Daniel was accused of conniving and defrauding them but they four families dragged him to court in a matter instituted by the Muru Ki Mallam Goh Family in Miango District alongside Communications giant, MTN, Miango Traditional Council, and Bassa Local Government (as 2nd, 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants in that order) for the alleged illegal building of MTN network Mast on their ancestral land.
In a suit No. PLD/J586/2013, the Plaintiffs, Rubwu Mary Kuito (Nee Waki), Jummai J. Andrew (New Waki), Sunday Yah Turu, Joseph R. Turu, and Turu Kpasha for themselves and on behalf of the Muru Ki MallamTuru Goh family claimed against the defendants jointly and severally as follows;
“A declaration that the piece of land measuring 3.29 hectares situating and laying at Miango District in Bassa LGA, Plateau State, and more particularly described in the site plan belongs to the Plaintiffs.
An Order of forfeiture of the customary tenancy granted the 3rd defendant by the Plaintiffs’ forebears over the 0.18 hectares as identified and shown out of the 3.29 hectares of the land aforesaid.
An Order directing the 1st defendant to remove the Network Mast illegally built on the farmland of the Plaintiffs”.
The Plaintiffs also claimed a total sum of 20 Million Naira as general damages for alleged trespass, rancor, acrimony, and embarrassment suffered due to the actions of the defendants. The claim goes in this manner; ten million naira against the 1st defendant, 5 million Naira against the 2nd and 3rd defendants, and 5 million naira against the 4th defendant respectively.
The Plaintiffs further prayed the court for an Order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their privies, and representatives from interfering from or in any manner trespassing on their 3.29 hectares of land described in the site plan.
When the matter came on Wednesday, Chief Chega (2nd defendant), in his adopted statement on oath told the court that he was appointed district head of Miango sometimes in October 2010 and that he knew the portion of land in respect of which the plaintiffs have instituted the action.
The District head said that the land in issue is presently used as market place officially designated by Bassa local government (4 descendant) for that purpose.
He said that in 1963 or sometime thereabout, the Miango community under its community leaders then observed Miango town was in need of a befitting market place in view of the growing local economy of the people adding that the market was to serve as an avenue for attracting external traders to purchase the agricultural products of the rural to generate internal revenue for community development.
The defendant that in the same year (1963), the then-District Head of Miango, Aweyi Kwe, (deceased), proceeded to scout for a suitable location for the citing of the market. He said that with the mandate of the community leaders under him, the District Head entered into negotiations with the customary landowners by appealing to them to donate the land for public use.
According to the defendant, the families that constituted the landowners, through their respective heads, willfully agreed to donate their respective holdings of the land for the construction of the said market.
He stressed that in accordance with the native law and custom of the Irigwe people which is required that a token of blankets be given to the donors in acknowledgment and appreciation of their benevolence, each of the family heads was presented with a blanket which they accepted and in turn, appreciated and by so doing, relinquished their titles and possession of the land for public use.
He said that the families whose portions of land were acquired under the above-stated deal were; Ruh Goh, Tama and Kira Ki respectively.
The defendant added that the market was formally opened on October 1st, 1964 and became the property of the defunct Jos Native Authority which by law was the local and administrative authority in control of Miango.
He however noted that the powers to manage and supervise the market devolved on the 4th defendant when it was created in 1976.
The 2nd defendant stated that in 2010, I. H. S Plc, (a telecommunications company) requested to acquire a small portion of the land on lease to erect a mast that would provide GSM services to Miango town and its environs.
He said I. H. S contacted him and pursuant to negotiations, rents in the sum of N3,000,000 (Three Million Naira) were paid by I. H. S for a period of ten years.
The 2nd defendant further stated that in consultation with the 4th defendant, the Miango Traditional Council decided that the said sum be used to rehabilitate the Grade 1 Area Court building and the Miango Divisional Police Station all of which were burnt down by irate youths of Miango during the riots of 2012 and the money was consequently, kept in the custody of the 4th defendant.
According to 2nd defendant, “The plaintiffs are merely motivated by the desire to access the rents paid by I.H.S Plc to the community for their personal use only.
I know that under Irigwe native law and custom, once the gift or donation of land has been negotiated, permanent transfer of land is usually sealed with a gift of a blanket to the owner coupled with the handover of actual possession of the same to the donee.
The land then ceased to be recoverable by the donors and their successor-in-title”.
However, under cross-examination by Desmond Umekwe Esq, counsel for the plaintiffs told the court that the agreement between the traditional council and I. H. S Plc for the building of the Mast was done in his palace and signed by him adding that neither the plaintiffs nor Bassa local government (4th defendant was a party to the agreement).
He further told the court that it was much later that he came to realize that the land on where the mast was built belonged to the plaintiffs, I.e ( Leko, Kama, and Nkara Kik families).
The matter was adjourned until December 07, 2020, for the continuation of defense.