An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday dismissed an application seeking the nullification of a report which indicted a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ayim, Pius Ayim, of fraud.
The report put together by Nigeria’s House of Representatives had regarded the centenary city project, estimated at over $18 billion dollars, as a complete fraud and called on the country’s anti-graft agencies to investigate those in charge of the project with a view to prosecuting them.
Although Mr. Ayim was not listed as a party to the suit, the report against which the motion had been filed requested the investigation of Mr. Ayim; a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed; and two directors of the centenary city, Paul Oki and Boma Ozobia.
The applicant in the suit filed March this year, was the centenary city, while the defendants were the House of Representatives and a former chairman of the House committee on the Federal Capital Territory, Herman Hembe, who was removed from office by the Supreme Court in June.
Delivering his judgement, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba said the arguments of the plaintiff that they were not given the right of fair hearing lacks merit, and is not reason enough to dismiss the findings of the report.
“In all honesty, upon a full and dispassionate appraisal of what has been placed before me, I do not believe that a sufficient case has been made warranting the intervention of the Court in the manner prayed for in the suit.
“First, this suit has been built on Section 36(1) of the Constitution. A review of the said section shows that the provisions are only applicable, ‘in the determination of the civil rights and obligations’ of persons ‘before a Court or other judicial tribunal established by law. I do not agree that the defendants are acting as court or tribunal or performing a quasi-judicial function. I do not even agree that the defendants are acting in administrative capacity.
“All the conditions enumerated in Section 36 must co-exist in a given situation for the provisions to enjoy any relevance.”
The judge further said the documents before his court show that the parties involved in the said report were invited for questioning, meaning an opportunity to be heard was extended to the applicants.
“The evidence clearly shows that the plaintiff was invited to the public hearing, as were other relevant stakeholders.
“The right to be heard, simply means the opportunity to be heard, not that one must be heard definitively even when you spurn the opportunit,” the judge said.
The judge therefore dismissed the application for lacking in merit.
The centenary city, estimated to cost $18.3 billion was supposed to be a private project, but was later discovered to have been diverted for personal gains, the House committee said in its report.
Also a former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Cairo Ojougboh, in 2015 demanded the investigation of Mr. Ayim over his alleged roles in the creation of the centenary city, in 2014.
Mr. Anyim has denied any wrongdoing.
According to a petition addressed to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Ojougboh said Nigeria had no equity in the project, alleging that Mr. Ayim owned the 3000 acres of land used for the execution of the said project.