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Retired civil servant, Nigerian businessman battle over state property

March 5, 2021

BY Jeneba A Conteh

Charles Onyeka Obishili,a Nigerian businessman, on Wednesday appeared before Justice  Tonia Barnette  of the Siaka Steven Street High Court after being sued for a parcel of land situated at Hill Station in Freetown, which is known to be a property of the state.

He was taken to the High Court by Anthony Aruna former Deputy Secretary, Immigration Office, as 1st Applicant and his wife, Rugiatu Aruna as 2nd Applicant.

But Lawyer  I.F Sawaneh representing the respondent argued that, his client was not claiming the property as his, but that government offered him the said property in 2017-18.

He noted that his client has spent over fifty million Leones on the land by constructing shop and temporal dwelling house, with all relevant documents from Works Ministry, National Assets and Government’s Property Commission.

Both applicants went to court on the grounds that the Responded Charles Onyeka Obishili occupied a government quarter at 26 Regent Road Hill Station Freetown, which was offered to the 1st Applicant by the Government of Sierra Leone in 2007 when he was serving as civil servant.

The said quarter, according to the Applicant, was engulfed by fire in the same year and that he sought permission from the Ministry of Works to construct a temporal structure, a request that was granted by the ministry.

He said the Respondent approached him and requested that he wanted to construct a shop at the said premises, and that a tenancy agreement was entered into between him and the respondent.

The first and second Applicants claimed that the property in question was offered to them by the Government of Sierra Leone with proper documentation.

Responding to both Applicants, lawyer representing the Respondent I.F Sawaneh raised an objection that, both Applicants, especially the 1st Anthony Aruna, laid claim to a government property for which they have no proper document.

He argued that the property in question is not situated at 26 Regent Road, Hill Station, but HS 19 situate at Hill Station, and that it is the property of the Government of Sierra Leone.

He contended that the government property in question belongs to the Respondent.

Meanwhile, lawyers  for the Applicants were not in Court.

Justice Tonia Barnette adjourned the matter to the 16 March, 2021, for both lawyers representing both parties to come and argue their cases.

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