Presbyterian Church of Nigeria drags Ebonyi Governor to court over church property


Ebonyi State Governor Umahi

 Presbyterian Chụrch of Nigeria  (PCN) at the weekend dragged  embattled Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State  before a State High court for taking over its hospital.

Also joined in the suit are the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Ebonyi state House of Assembly as second and third defendants.

The church in suit no: HAB/120/2020 is seeking a N5bn for general damages from the Governor for the takeover and shutting down of the Presbyterian Joint Hospital located in the Governor’s hometown of Ụbụrụ.

It said the government’s action was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and amounts to trespassing.

 Recall that the  Ebonyi State Government had in 2020 announced the immediate shutdown and subsequent takeover of the Hospital.

The government said the action is the sequel to a petition by the host community over the expiration of the church’s 100-year lease.

The community, according to the state government, had also alleged misappropriation of funds, high medical charges on indigent patients, use of obsolete equipment in the treatment of patients and non-presence of qualified doctors, and urged the state government to take over the management of the hospital.

But the church in the suit disagreed with the government’s position arguing that the lease was still subsisting and had not expired.

The church further claimed that the lands upon which the hospital was built were not leased from the entire Uburu community but from specific families.

The church said the three lands upon which the hospital was built is owned by some families in Ụbụrụ and leased in 1917, 1923, and 1958 are still subsisting till 2026, 2052 and for as long as it is being used for the purpose it was leased respectively.

They, therefore, prayed the court to declare that its leasehold interest over all the hospital lands remains valid and subsisting.

The church is also asking the court for a declaration that the purported takeover of its leasehold interest in the hospital lands and its hospital is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

Continuing, the Church is also praying the court for a declaration that the third defendant’s(Ebonyi State House of Assembly) purported revocation of the statutory right of occupancy over the land upon which the hospital is built is ultra vires the powers of the third defendant and is accordingly unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The Church is also praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the state government from taking any further moves to take over the hospital.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, March 10, the Counsel to the Church, Uche Awa (SAN) was in court while the state government had no Lawyer to represent it.

The Judge, Justice Ken Eze however adjourned the matter to the 12th of May for pre-trial