Counsel for the Kaduna State Government, Sanusi Usman, told the Kaduna State High Court on Tuesday that those who were yet to vacate the Durbar Hotel after the court restrained the government and its agencies from demolishing or further taking over the property were scavengers.
Usman told the court the government left the disputed property soon after the demolition, saying that no government agency was at the site.
The High Court in Kaduna had on January 21, 2020, restrained Governor Nasir el-Rufai and agencies of the state government from demolishing and taking over the hotel located along Muhammadu Buhari by Independence Way, Kaduna.
The hotel had been under litigation between the Federal Government and the late Head the State, Sani Abacha, since 2001.
The Abacha family was said to have won the case both at the lower and the appellate courts.
However, officials of the state led by the Kaduna State Urban and Property Development Agency demolished the hotel overnight.
The court restraining order was a sequel on an exparte motion brought before the court by the counsel for the management of Durbar Hotel Plc, Mr. Reuben Atabo, praying the court for an order of interim injunction restraining El-Rufai and agencies of the state government from demolishing, taking over, or tampering with the property.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Hannatu Balogun, had also adjourned the case till February 11, 2020, saying “In the interest of justice we will hear the report of compliance with the court order on February 11, 2020.”
But the state had gone ahead to revoke the property, citing debt.
Meanwhile, at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Usman, who is also the Director of Litigation in the State Ministry of Justice, insisted that scavengers were on the said property to see what they could get and not a government agency.
According to Usman, the presence of scavengers attracted security operatives that went there to keep the peace.
“Individuals seen on the property are scavengers following information of revocation and demolition of the property.
“Scavengers are there to see what they can get on the property.
“The presence of large numbers of scavengers attracted security agencies who went there to keep the peace,” he said.
But the lawyer for the Abacha family, Mr. Reuben Atabo had earlier told the court the Kaduna State Urban and Property Development Agency, went to the hotel site with trucks and demolished the hotel and made away with items recovered from the area.