Hotel mgt alleges forceful takeover, petitions IGP

The management of De-Villa Guest House in Kaduna, Kaduna state has cried out over the forceful occupation of their hotel premises by some gunmen, pleading that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) should look into the matter.

The management through their counsel, A. K. Usman chamber urged the police to investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to book.

In a letter addressed to the IGP through the Kaduna State Commissioner of  Police, the hotel management said the guest house is still a subject of litigation in court, and wondered why some persons will take laws into their hands by forcefully occupying the premises with gunmen.

The letter from the chamber signed by Barr. Kimi Livingstone Appah reads in part: “De Villa Guest House Ltd is a company incorporated in Nigeria and is the owner of a five-story building at number 3 Rafi Close, Off Kachia Road, Barnawa Kaduna (the Hotel).

“Our client acquired the said property through an executed deed of assignment between our client and Mr. Jude Chukwuka, of number 3, Malam Kure Street, Jos, Plateau State on the 10th day of November 2004. A copy of the Certificate of Incorporation is hereby annexed as annexure “AKU 1” and the deed of assignment as “AKU 2”. 

“The Hotel is covered by a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Governor of Kaduna State but still in the name of the first allottee. Before the transfer of the property and that the Hotel was covert by statutory document, the Kaduna State Government was approached and they issued approval of the right to transfer the certificate of Occupancy on the 9th day of November 2004. A copy of the Certificate of occupancy is hereby attached as Annexure AKU 3 and the Approval for the transfer of the certificate of occupancy is attached as Annexure AKU 4 for your perusal.

“Our client being desirous of developing the said Hotel, approached Union Homes Savings and Loan Plc. And both parties executed three loan agreements dated Thursday 27 March 2008 (annexure AKU 5) Tuesday 7 September 2010 (annexure AKU 6) and 4th April 2012 (annexure AKU 7). It is worthy of note, that in the three agreements, the address of service of our client was written as De Villa Guest House Ltd, Lafia Road, GRA, Okene, Kogi State. Copies of Annexures AKU 5, 6, and 7 are hereby attached for perusal.

“Our client was shocked and without any notice to him via his postal address and or their email, Union Homes Savings and Loan Plc. (the bank) Procured a judgment from the Kaduna State High Court in suit number KDH/KAD/169/2019, wherein the Court gave the bank the right to sell the hotel. A copy of the Judgment of the Kaduna State High Court dated 16/10/2019 is hereby annexed as annexure AKU 8. 

“The bank upon the acquisition of annexure AKU 8, PROCURED a writ of possession and took over the entire premises of the hotel pursuant to a writ of possession issued by the Kaduna State High Court on the 31st day of October 2019. A copy of the writ of possession is hereby annexed as annexure AKU 9.

“That our client only became aware of the disputes after the execution of annexure AKU 9 by the bank. Our client immediately briefed the firm of A. K. Usman & Co. to approach the High Court (Kaduna State High Court) for the setting aside of the judgment obtained fraudulently by the bank and on the 19th day of December 2019, Hon. Justice E. Y. B. Lolo, set aside the judgment and the writ of possession entered in favour of the bank. A copy of the order/ ruling setting aside the judgment of 31st October 2019 is hereby annexed as annexure AKU 10. 

“Our client upon the fact that the suit leading to the judgment and the eventual taking over of the hotel had been determined, filed a suit against the bank before the Kaduna State High Court (annexure AKU 11) and the bank in turn filed a counterclaim to the suit (annexure AKU 12) filed by our client.

“It was with extreme disappointment that despite the suit before the Kaduna State High Court, which is still pending and annexure AKU 9, the bank refused to vacate the hotel and the hotel through its counsel wrote the bank several letters but they (the bank) refused to vacate the premises leading to the Hotel instituting a suit against the bank before the Kaduna State rent tribunal and after hearing, the Customary Court of Kaduna State entered judgment in favour of the Hotel and upon execution by the Court, the Hotel was returned to possession. A copy of the judgment of the Customary Court Barnawa is hereby annexed as annexure AKU 13.

“The bank became aggrieved and appealed against the judgment of the Customary Court Barnawa, Kaduna to the Kaduna State High Court, and after hearing, the Kaduna State High Court entered judgment in favour of the Bank, upheld the appeal and set aside the judgment of the Customary Court of Appeal. A copy of the judgment is hereby annexed for your perusal as annexure AKU 14.

“Our client upon the judgment of the Kaduna State High Court (High Court Appeal Session), appealed the said decision (annexure AKU 14) to the Court of Appeal, after obtaining leave (annexure 15) from the Court of Appeal on the 2nd day of December 2021 (it should be noted that at all times material, the bank was represented by the law firm of S. A. Akanni & Co.).

“We have filed our Appellant brief of argument at the Court of Appeal (annexure AKU 16) in appeal number CA/K/104/2021 and the Respondent (being the bank) has also filed their Respondent’s brief of argument (annexure AKU 17) and we have also filed our reply to the Respondent’s brief of argument (annexure AKU 18).

“It is our position that the Court is fully clothed with jurisdiction and has completely seized the matter and in fact, the appeal is ripe for hearing, as such, both parties ought not to act and do anything whatsoever in connection with the property (the hotel).

“We indicated above, that the bank filed a counterclaim (annexure AKU 12) and on-premises and based on the facts that the bank did not satisfy the condition precedent before the institution of the suit (suit number KDH/KAD/169/2019) and the eventual setting aside of the judgment obtained therefrom, we filed a notice of preliminary objection, praying the court to strike out the bank’s counterclaim. The Kaduna State High Court after hearing both parties refused our application (annexure AKU 19).

“We filed an appeal against the ruling of the Kaduna State High Court to the Court of Appeal. We have filed and served the bank with our Appellant brief of argument (annexure AKU 20).

“We applied to the Kaduna State High Court praying for the staying of proceedings pending the hearing and determination of the appeal before the Court of Appeal in suit number KDH/KAD/65/2020. The ruling of the Kaduna State High Court is still pending.

“We need to state emphatically, on the strength of the facts above, the Hotel, and the bank is dip necked into litigation both at the Kaduna State High Court and the Court of Appeal as such, none of the parties can act, or do anything in connection with the Hotel unless after the approval of the Court.

“We were surprised when on the 17th day of June 2023, the bank, who are the only persons we know, deployed heavily armed men to the hotel, break the gate of the hotel, suppressed the security personnel on the ground, and re-took over the premises and started working on the premises.

“Our attention was called, and we approached the men that took over the premises of the hotel with their armed militia, who were supervising the work at the site but could not have any head away, as such, we immediately reported the matter to the Barnawa Police Division, being the Police Station having jurisdiction over the Hotel.

“The Barnawa Police Divisional Officer (DPO), immediately, move some personnel to the hotel and invited the people carrying out the work at the hotel without the knowledge of our client. The team of Policemen was led by Insp. Yohana Aku, who also saw the presence of some armed men at the hotel, supervised the work. 

“The DPO could not resolve or give any direction on premises that the subject matter is the property and the matter is saturated by litigation at both the High Court of Kaduna State and the Court of Appeal, Kaduna Judicial Division, as such, it would require the approval of the Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State, hence this letter.

“It is our view, that neither Nura Bello nor the Bank can do anything in connection with the hotel without the express approval of the duality of the Kaduna State High Court and the Court of Appeal and for the Bank and or any person to have procured the services of armed militia to guard their operation snack on the face, illegality which we believe, you would not allow such to stand.

“As a good citizen, our client does not want to take the laws into their hands by doing anything whatsoever which would lead to a breach of public peace within your domain, that is why we are calling on your urgent intervention if the bank, took over the premises through court-ordered execution and we eventually retook the premises through court execution, it cannot be heard that anybody, can take over the said premises through armed militia, which is what had taken place.

“Sir, it is our opinion that the hotel has been a subject matter of litigation (res), no person, can do anything against the thrust of the suit currently before the Court, and who so ever, decided to put an investment in a deep-rooted litigation property, is ready and willing to follow through the legal proceedings pending before the court and not the deployment of armed militia.

“To date, we did not receive any written document from anybody notifying us of the action that took place on the 17th day of November 2023, as such, we call on you to open an investigation into the breaking, and taking over of the hotel with the aid of armed militia.”

The management therefore urged the police to, “open an investigation into the allegations made and take out the armed men on the hotel and return our client to their premises.

“That you advise and ensure the entire parties to avoid any action that would lead to a breakdown of law and order at the Hotel.”

“The police should ensure that nobody, or group of persons, benefit from illegality and you would ensure strict adherence to rule of law.”