The Umaru Yar’Adua government restored the plot belonging to El Rufai’s wife that it earlier revoked, a prosecution witness has told an Abuja High Court. Sunday Idowu, the police investigator who is the second prosecution witness, PW2, was continuing his cross examination in the El Rufai case.
PW2 confirmed to Kanu Agabi, counsel for the third accused, that he read the statements of the accused persons, and the documents that were attached. He said Plot 1201, the PHCN plot, was sub-divided, but could not remember the number. He agreed that Exhibit 11, the statement of the 1st accused, contains 37 letters of revocation in respect of the subdivisions from Plot 1201. PW2 said the administration of the first accused made the revocations. PW2 said the plot allocated to the wife of the first accused was not restored by the administration of the first accused, but was restored by a subsequent administration. PW2 disagreed that the restoration showed that the initial allocation was in order; rather he said a committee recommended restoration because of the level of development and the volume of compensation to be paid. Asked why a government would pay compensation for illegal allocation of land, PW2 said it’s because the accused acted as a government official while making the allocation and revocations.
PW2 came to know about the process of land allocation during the investigation. He was asked to describe the process. He said it passes through a bureaucratic process. He could not say if the plots in the charge have passed through a bureaucratic process because the files have disappeared from AGIS; they only saw evidence of allocation and revocation. PW2 acknowledged that a certificate is evidence of land title, and he admitted that he did not see PHCN’s certificate of title to Plot 1201. PW2 however insisted that documents evidencing PHCN’s title have already been tendered, including memos from the Executive Secretary and the Engineering Department of the FCDA advising against the revocation and the subsequent reallocation.
PW2 admitted that among the documents in Exhibit 11 is the letter of allocation to the daughter of the Executive Secretary Alhassan, PW1.Chief Akin Olujimi, counsel to El Rufai, in his cross examination , asked PW2 if he read the first accused’s statement before visiting the PHCN plot. PW2 said he visited PHCN plot 1201 in 2007/2008 but cannot remember if he had read Exhibit 11 before the visit, but remembers that residential buildings had been erected there by the time he visited. He rejected the assertion that the plot remains undeveloped even now. Olujimi put it to him that it remains so, with a PHCN caveat emptor prominently displayed at the site. PW2 denied seeing Exhibits 5A and B where PHCN confirmed that they needed only a smaller portion of the space originally earmarked for the 330/132/33kva injection substation. PW2 said the letter in any case only refers to a corridor, not a plot of land. Olujimi put it to him that the area released by the reduction in both the size of the substation and the PHCN corridor is what was allocated; he said he is not aware. PW2 told the court that he is not aware that substation size determines corridor size.
PW2 further told the court that he is not aware that Plot 1201 was not allocated to PHCN. He identified Exhibit 4 as one of the documents he believes vests title in the PHCN, but admitted it is not signed by a minister. PW2 said he does not know that only the minister can allocate land in the FCT. He also did not see any letter revoking the land and is unaware that Exhibit 4 indicates that the plot was to be jointly developed by FCDA and PHCN.
PW2 said Joseph Makoju, then PHCN MD, denied that PHCN asked for a reduction in the land space it required in Plot 1201. He could not remember coming across the Abuja master-plan, but he can remember that he was shown PHCN allocation by those he interacted with. Told that the master-plan does not contain plot enumeration, he said he may have seen it but he cannot remember. He is also not aware that the redesign still left space for the injection substation.
PW2 testified that he did not find out about the authority claimed by the first accused or the guidelines approved by the Federal Executive Council for the allocation of land in Abuja, nor could he remember seeing them in Exhibit 11. PW2 agreed that every Nigerian is entitled to land in Abuja, including the wives of the first accused.
The defence also asked PW2 about his claim that El Rufai owns the plot allocated to his wife because he listed it in his assets declaration form, Exhibit 14. He was reminded that the law mandates a public officer to list assets belonging to his wives and children.
The NIPOST plot PW2 repeated that he is not aware that NIPOST went to court in a civil action that’s still pending on this matter. Idowu earlier presented a CAC file showing that El Rufai owned shares in a company in which an allotee also held shares. At today’s hearing he also confirmed exhibits 9N and 9R showing that El Rufai had been removed as a director and had transferred shares in that company.
NIPOST plot 3352 was allocated in 1994, as shown in Exhibit 10, to be developed within two years. PW2 didn’t bother to find out if NIPOST complied with the two-year rule, for an allocation meant exclusively to build a district post office. The land was revoked in 2005. PW2 denied there was any agreement between Rosehill and NIPOST, just a proposal to build, operate and transfer which was not approved by the minister. Olujimi asked if he was not aware that Rosehill was to build hotel and residential flats there, PW2 said the proposal was to develop and operate the space for 24 years and revert to NIPOST but he cannot remember if it included hotels and flats. PW2 admitted he saw a lease agreement between NIPOST and Rosehill approved by the Minister for Communications but he insisted he is not aware that NIPOST and Rosehill went to court on the matter.
PW2 said he is aware of the accelerated development programme initiated by the first accused; he confirmed that Rosehill applied. Olujimi, counsel to El Rufai, also drew the court’s attention to the attitude of PW2 who tended to say he did not know or could not remember when prodded on issues and documents that may help the defence. Olujimi therefore put the question to PW2 if he thought the investigation was thorough; PW2 responded that he conducted the investigation to the best of his ability. The court advised the defence to raise PW2’s conduct in its final address.
The case was adjourned to 8 November 2012 when the prosecution is expected to call its third witness.