By Stanley Onyekwere
A Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) mobile court sitting in Garki 1, section 1, in Abuja, the nation’s capital has convicted four persons arraigned for non-redecoration of their premises, ordering them to pay N3, 000 as fine as well as repaint their premises within seven days.
The affected residents were part of the total 63 occupants of some blocks of flats due for redecoration in the area, summoned to appear before the mobile court, when it sat at the weekend.
According to the prosecutor, Barrister Arome Tokula, said they were arraigned in the court for failing to redecorate and beautiful their homes and environment.
He said the offence was contrary to Section 35 1(e) of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) Act of 1997.
Tokula added that out of the total number that were summoned to appear before the mobile court, incidentally only five were present when the court sat.
Also, he said the prosecution succeeded in obtaining a bench warrant on the rest of the absentees, for their arrest, since they have refused to voluntarily appear before the court without any justification.
According to him, the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) has empowered the magistrate to issue a bench of warrant for their (absentee residents) arrest, and to compel the appearance of the accused persons by the next adjourned date.
“One of those present was not convicted because he had done the painting even though the order was directed to a block of flats, but he had painted his own area, which the court ordered that we should go and verify same, and report back.
“We had lawyers representing some blocks of flats, but the court observed and ruled that only individual persons in the affected buildings are supposed to appear, and the issue of one person representing twenty-four occupants of a block of flats is not tenable in law,” he stressed.
Consequently, he said the counsels to the absentee occupants of the block of flats have been instructed to produce them by the next sitting of the court.
Peoples Daily reports that the court adjourned its sitting to October 25 (Saturday), to enable those who were absent, make appearance.
But, reacting to stance of the court on the appearance of the affected occupants before it, one of the counsels to the absentees, Yunusa Abdulsalam said he is bold by the decision of the court, and would communicate same to those he represented.
He however complained that the notice of hearing was rather abrupt, as it did give the affected persons time to prepare for due appearance before the court.
Speaking to newsmen, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Development Department, Mr. Kalu Emetu, explained that it would not relent on its intensified enforcement of redecoration of buildings in the FCT.
He said it means everything involved in making the house look beautiful, not just putting painting on the wall, saying that its officials ensured that they served notices to every block physically.
He warned that the Development Control, which is an arm of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) is ever to ready to act swiftly and diligently on the orders of the relevant FCTA mobile court against any resident or owners of structures, found to deface the city or violate the Abuja master plan.