Allegations of land encroachment are becoming rife in Abuja as the demands for land increases. In this report, DAVID ADUGE-ANI writes on land tussles in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has one of highest record of cases of land tussles, between individuals, corporate bodies and even amongst government agencies. In fact, one of the reasons given recently by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), for suspending land allocation since 2015, was that it inherited many cases of land tussles. LEADERSHIP gathered that as at recently, the administration has been able to resolved over 500 cases out of 2,000 land cases in the territory since 2015. One of the most celebrated land tussles in FCT is the one between two former First Ladies, Dame Goodluck Jonathan and Hajia Turai Yar’Adua, and the former FCT administration. However, there was another case between the Committee on Roadside Development (CRD) is an association of residents living at Federal Housing authority (FHA), Lugbe, along the Airport Road and a developer, River Park Estate.
Our reporter gathered that the Committee on Roadside Development (CRD) is an association of residents living at Federal Housing authority (FHA), Lugbe, along the Airport Road, with about 474 hectares of land, believed to have been acquired by members of the public since 1996. LEADERSHIP gathered that residents of this land have been living in this plot, until recently when a developer, River Park Estate, allegedly moved in with armed men and police officers to unleash mayhem on the innocent residents. Residents said that they woke up one day only to discover that bulldozers have been moved to the community to pull down some structures in the area, with some armed men who invaded the community to intimidate them.
Worried by this ugly incident, some residents of this area were forced to stage a peaceful protest in Abuja, appealing to the appropriate authorities, especially President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, to come to their aids. The protesters displaced placards with various inscriptions such as: “Hon. Minister, Sir. Please, prevail on D.P.O, River Park Estate Police Station; they have no business in land matters; Hon. Minister, Sir. CRD Layout Residents need your urgent intervention to stop administrative injustice; Hon. Minister, Sir. Our layout is AGIS NO: 0235; please, stop the D.P.O of River Park Police Station from harassing and shooting at residents at will, The Developer of River Park Estate is grabbing land at CRD Layout, including others.
Spokesperson for the protesters, Mr. Stanley Nwaokike, said, “I have been here for over ten years. I bought the land from AMAC and I was able to get the approval and developed it. Early 2014, we discovered that River Park Estate had started encroaching into our area, removing structures and pulling down trees. What actually got our attention was one of us who was building then got his building demolished.
We also brought our own layout and asked them to bring their layout, but they came with layout which we don’t know where it came from and we told them that their own layout was not registered with the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). The security men that followed them started harassing some of our members so that they could continue.” Nwaokike affirmed that the FCDA has never, for once, said the place does not belonged to their members, neither has it been retrieved from them because it is a relocation area, adding that the area was created to relocate people from the road side, insisting that no government official has ever told them that it was not their own plot. Another resident of the area, Mr. Rufus Olatunji, told LEADERSHIP that he bought his land in the year 2010, without any premonition of crisis whatsoever and still visited Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) to confirm the genuineness of the plot on the papers.
Also speaking, another resident, Mrs. Oluwayemisi Florence Moses said there was no problem when her husband started building. According to her, “We have our paper and we have confirmed the genuineness of the plot. We went to AGIS and also went to AMAC and confirmed that the layout was correct before we started building. The major challenge is the trouble we are facing from River Park Estate, especially under the management headed by Paul Odili. Moses therefore called for peace, just as she urged government to come to their rescue in the area. However, in an interview, the general manager of River Park Estate, Paul Odili said he cannot comment on the matter since the issue is already in court. Odili referred our reporter to FCTA to check the original owners of the plot, just as he insisted that the property belongs to River Park Estate. “There is no way I can speak with you on this matter, because it is already in court. But I will refer you to FCDA to check the original owners of that plot. I maintain that the plot belongs to us.”