One of the challenges facing Abuja residents is how to develop their land to become house owners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). IGHO OYOYO writes on the plight of residents of Dei-Dei community in their efforts to own their own houses.
The desire of every Nigerian, residing in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is to become house owners one day. This is even pertinent in the present harsh economic situation, where landlords increase house rents, without considering the plight of the people. But, when land owners buy plots, with documentations to show and still face daunting hurdles in developing them, it becomes a thing of great concerns for the government to look into.
Sometimes, residents tend to wonder which is easier in the nation’s capital, to rent an apartment or buy land and build. Either way, Abuja residents are finding it very tough, even though those who choose to build their own houses seem to be gnashing their teeth.
This is the case of some landowners in Dei-Dei community in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), who claimed that they bought land in Dei-Dei since 1999, but could not develop them, because the immediate past minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed relocated their plots to new developers. Chairman of Zaudan Pazeri Property Owners Association, Elder Friday Ugoala, told LEADERSHIP that the land owners were allocated some plots in 1998 and 1999, through an ad-hoc committee and that all the land owners complied with all the processes and fees demanded by the administration.
According to Ugoala, their plots were also recertified under the Mallam Nasir El-rufai administration and that the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) acknowledged that their documents were being processed, adding however that the authorities had denied them Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O) and refused to approve their building plans, a development he said, crippled their efforts.
“In 1998 the government identified that the major problem of accommodation is what is affecting the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and that there was not enough accommodation for government workers, not to talk of private residents.
So, the government then, came up to address this major problem by mapping out a layout in Zauda, Pazeri and Fillindabo and other layouts. The government then gave out over 3,000 plots in the layouts in Zauda Paziri and Fillindabo within Dei-Dei district.
These plots were allocated to Nigerians from all walks of life, because the housing deficit knew no bound, which ranged from civil servants, uniform men, traders, judiciary, religious organisations and corporate bodies amongst others that benefitted from the allocation. The layouts had ministerial approval and upon the allocation, files were opened and the necessary bills, which included survey, ground rates and certificate of occupancy, which were paid for and files opened.
He continued: “Unfortunately, no approval for building plans was given, until a former minister of FCT, Mallam Nasir El-rufai came on board and called for the recertification of the allocations, which we all responded and paid the fees for recertification and new files were opened at AGIS and we complied with the necessary things that were demanded from us,” he said.
He explained further that it was the last they heard of it, adding that rather than processing their Certificate of Occupancy and given approval to some of them that had the drawings of their building plans, activities within the two layouts came to a halt.
“So, during the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the next thing we heard was that the layouts were redesigned and super imposed on phase 4 of the FCT Master plan, without considering those that were allocated plots of land in the same environment. The most painful aspect is that the layout was given to mass housing developers, without the innocent Nigerians who were originally given the plots of land and had complied with all the requirements.
“The truth is that the plots were not revoked, while this was done and if they revoked, that means it did not follow due process, because you cannot revoke land from private and reallocate to private. If there were issues of public interest, it would have been different, but it was not so. We are begging the FCT Minister, Malam Mohammed Bello to order a reversal to what was on the ground; Zaudan Pazeri and Filindabo layouts have received ministerial approval and they are authentic layouts. So, anything on the contrary, means injustice,” he said.
Another affected landowner, Mr. Friday Mba, who is also the financial secretary of the association, lamented that the land owners have been going through serious emotional trauma since the land issue started with the FCTA, because they purchased the plots of land with their hard-earned money from the businesses they do.
“We bought the land with every necessary paper and all the money demanded were paid and they were well documented at AGIS. We are appealing to the FCT Minister to come to our rescue, because we are really suffering. Presently, most of us can hardly eat or sleep well, because of this land problem with the FCTA. We have been going through serious emotional trauma, as a result of this land matter and some of our members are dead. President Buhari should come to our rescue,” he said.
Mba explained that the affected land owners cut across profession, both rich and poor, also the indigenes of Zaudan, Pazerri, Sabon Gari and Filindabo villages that own farms of cash crops and economic trees.
“Because when the government considered that they do not have cash to settle them for their cash crops and farm produce that are involved in the layout, they were then compensated with plots according to sizes of their farms and the numbers of cash crops and tress that were involved.
I believed that if there is an allocation, the position of the law that I have knowledge of, is that before the property allocated to somebody is taking over from the person, the person that allocated it will say he wants to withdraw the allocation he made to the occupant, and before he could do that, it must be for public interest, but in this case, it was not so.”
However, efforts made by LEADERSHIP to get the position of the FCT administration on the matter proved abortive, as the head of information, department of land administration of the administration, Sule Hazat, could not be reached. Also, several calls and text messages, to his phone were not replied.
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