Residents of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, denounced the continuing demolition of homes in the nation’s capital by the FCTA’s Development Control Department amid the current insecurity and hardship experienced across the country.
DAILY POST recalls that several houses in the city were recently torn down by the FCTA for alleged illegal buildings.
Continued demolition, particularly without compensation to those affected, has aggravated the difficulties in the area as many residents are now displaced, some now residing in displaced camps, including students and children.
In less than two weeks, more than 800 structures were destroyed in the nation’s capital, leaving occupants wandering in search of where to stay amid security threats and prevailing economic hardships.
In June, the chairman of the FCT ministerial hygiene committee of the city, Ikharo Attah led a team to Lugbe-Across, Lugbe-Berger, car wash and Lugbe Zone 5 along Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, where over 400 facilities were destroyed on the ground of illegality.
The drill lasted eight hours with heavy security personnel to avoid the collapse of law and order. The team consisted mainly of men from the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, Nigeria Army, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Air Force, Abuja Environmental Protection Board, as well as officials from the FCT Development Control Department.
When asked during one of the drills if there was any compensation for the affected residents, Ikharo Attah told reporters that “They have been warned before and when illegal is committed, we should even take them to court but we are leaving them. The leaders have. denied having given them the land ”.
Likewise, more than 137 hostels, hotels and other buildings in the Iddo Sarki community in Aviation Village, adjacent to the main campus of Abuja University, Gwagwalada, Abuja, were all torn down between last week and this week for reasons of illegal acquisition of the plots.
Mr. Attah, chairman of the task force, addressing reporters on the spot said the operation was in compliance with the FCT ministerial directive to remove all violations and illegal buildings within the FCT.
But the owners complained that even if they acquired the land without a titled document, it cannot be called illegality and that the FCTA should have approached them from the foundation and not when they had invested their life savings.
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” Yes, the truth is that some of us have bought our plots from local chiefs. In every community there are habitual lands. It was what we thought. But they said the local leaders denied us. Good and good, but the government should protect our interests because that is why it is voted in power. How do you protect people now by destroying their property and there is no compensation? How do you now protect land more than property on it? Who owns the land? Isn’t the government formed by the people? Where was the government when we started the foundation? It’s so sad.
” Our government needs to be more sensitive to what directly affects people. Now, how much does a plot of land cost in Abuja and how much does it cost to rent a bedroom? The government knows that only a few of them in the government can afford these things. The same government that mourns insecurity is tearing down people’s homes and properties. And they claim to face insecurity. This doesn’t add up to me. Rather you will increase the crime rate in FCT by moving people, “a stricken landlord, Peter Okereke, told Iddo Sakki’s DAILY POST.
Many other owners and students affected by the demolition have been stuck in the rain, complaining that it will be difficult to put their pieces back together to start life again.
One student told DAILY POST: “ I rented an apartment here to study and unfortunately I wasn’t down when the government team came for the exercise. I lost everything in the room. Where do I start? ” John Gabriel, a student of Abuja University, told the DAILY POST.
Our correspondent, however, noted that after the team left the demolition scene, the scavengers took advantage of the opportunity to loot properties buried in the debris.
But Atta had sent out a strong warning to other FCTA residents that they will soon be touring their areas with bulldozers. This has further raised fear in many FCT residents who have their facilities on familiar grounds.
Where’s next in FCT?
Ikharo Attah, addressing reporters, listed Mpape, Dutse Makaranta and Ushafa as next areas on the line.
“We have to rush this work now because the people of Mpape, Dutse Makaranta and Ushafa, both the residents and the owners, are begging the FCT minister to come and clean up their area, so we will help them soon.
“We are also seeing invasions in the Lower Usuma Dam, where we can drink our safe water. We don’t want people to go there and pollute our water, “he said.
But residents in the listed areas appealed to the government, saying the government should first consider the safety and security of its people before carrying out demolition exercises.
DAILY POST has gathered that several cases of illegal structures are under discussion among government committees and the indigenous people of Gbagyi, most notably with claims of invasion by the Water Board around the Lower Usman Dam.
When the DAILY POST correspondent visited the area, indigenous people and residents revealed that a committee was looking into the problem and that it would be unfair for the government or its agency to tear down the houses without a concrete agreement between the indigenous and the team of the government.
” The case in this part of Ushafa is different. It’s a borderline issue, and please don’t believe that water contamination story because we don’t know how water can be contaminated by the very people who protect it. How is it possible? So do you think that by driving the locals away from their ancestral land, you are protecting the water? Wouldn’t that even be the worst kind of threat to water? I don’t even get any reviews, ” a Gbagyi indigenous, Peter told DAILY POST.
” The truth is that the response from Hon. The minister is getting is not the true picture of what is happening here. Look at the dam far away. How close are these houses? What are these domestic threats to water being treated before dispensing it to people? Is it the people living in the dam’s treatment center who are contaminating it? We have a very good minister with a keen ear and I doubt he will allow this kind of massive manipulation and demolition of indigenous built homes. Our people continue to claim that they have not yet been compensated, even for the land they gave to the then state of Niger to place the dam, yet they want to relocate it. We trust in the opinion of Hon. Minister. He will definitely take a look at this statement from the Water Board, “he added.
Speaking further on why residents can never be considered a threat to water in any way, he said a parametric fence has already demarcated the water body from a main road separating the community and the dam, with protection civilian and other local security officers. used by residents to guard the entrance to the dam. According to him, ” the issue of water contamination was a creation of some people in the media to justify their intention to take action against the Gbagyis and the community. ”
Many other residents who spoke to the DAILY POST said that some people in the name of national interests made up a story that the dam was facing a serious threat. ” It is true that we cannot fight the government. They have everything including the security apparatus, but it is always good to do the right thing in the justification of our consciences.
“If you are going to make people homeless due to water contamination, you have to scientifically prove it and it’s not like people live inside the dam fence, so how is that possible? While I agree that the government has the right to protect its water, it should do so while ensuring that it does not further complicate the current insecurity and poverty in the country for what cannot exactly be justified, “another resident who I don’t want his name told to our reporter.
When our correspondent visited the dam, it was noted that apart from some movements of people and vehicles along the main road, no other activity was observed. Two civil protection officers in a small security house prevented our correspondent from entering the dam fence.
When the DAILY POST accused them of granting access to other people, especially residents, to contaminate the water, they angrily denied the charge, saying, “People don’t come here. Before you can enter here, you will have to officially write to the Water Board for approval. Even the distant community there has their local security protecting the dam. You know there was a kidnapping here a year ago, so the community believes the kidnappers went through the dam and have been watching us ever since. We don’t allow people to please. ”
Our correspondent noted concern over the threat of demolition in the community as many residents accused our reporter of being a government agent.
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