The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Christian Elders Forum has declared that it would not bow to intimidation and harassment by the police and management of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) in their plot to seize its members’ land.
The forum lamented that policemen were being used to flout court orders and are harassing its members in the nation’s capital. They said the latest of such policemen’s intimidation came from officers allegedly working on the instruction of FHA to intimidate its members over disputed church premises.
Consequently, the forum appealed to the inspector-general of police, Alkali Baba Usman, to investigate the unlawful activities of policemen over land matters, claiming that FHA had continuously used them to disobey court orders.
In a reaction to a publication in a national daily by the FHA last week, the elders insisted that the managing director of FHA, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, was using armed policemen to harass and demolish churches on FHA estates, with intent to take over such land.
The executive secretary of the forum, Hassan Macaulay, in a statement he issued in Abuja at the weekend, said, “We have numerous complaints from church leaders against Senator Ashafa and the FHA. Our investigations also revealed that despite having all legal documents, the FHA continues to defy court orders and use policemen to harass and intimidate these church leaders and end up demolishing their churches.
‘’The policemen sometimes threaten church leaders with trumped-up allegations of human trafficking. We are not in a banana republic. Some politicians believe they can import the kind of lawlessness they exhibited in their states into Abuja.
‘’Because of the peculiar nature of church ownership, some government officials quickly take advantage of this to demolish their churches and claim their lands at any slight opportunity. We totally condemn this. We are prepared to resist this illegality at all costs. The right of the church in a society like ours is not deniable. We also want President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister of works and housing, Babatunde Fashola to call Senator Ashafa to order and make him to respect court orders,’’ Macaulay said.
Last week, the forum raised the alarm over the manner churches built on FHA plots were being forcefully taken away from them by the agency. When the police authorities were contacted by LEADERSHIP, they declined comment.
The elders said following their petition to the Force Headquarters, the IGP had reportedly withdrawn policemen attached to some government agencies to forestall the increasing reports of forceful ejection of occupants and illegal demolition of properties using armed policemen as cover in Abuja.
Last week, LEADERSHIP contacted the FHA management on the matter and its public relations officer, Mr Kenneth Chigelu, said the authority would not want to be dragged into any subjudicial issue over a matter which was already in court. He accused the forum of emotional blackmail against the FHA, adding that the police were doing their job.
Chigelu said the FHA had started undergoing a process of repositioning in all areas of its operations since the assumption of office by Ashafa, adding that the process had led to the elimination of fraudulent acquisition of lands and properties, as was the case in the past.