Members of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Christian Elders Forum have appealed to the Presidency and the inspector-general of police (IGP) Alkali Baba Usman to investigate the management of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and some police officers over alleged land grabbing and seizure of certain churches’ premises.
They also accused the agency of using some police officers to destroy some churches in Abuja, the nation’s capital city.
While declaring that the FCT belongs to all Nigerians irrespective of their faiths, the elders group alleged that certain officials of the FHA had resorted to using the police to harass and demolish churches in Abuja to enable them take over their land through the backdoor.
In a statement issued by the forum’s secretary, Hassan Macaulay, the Christian elders alleged that the managing director of FHA, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, was using a particular police officer to harass the leadership of one of their member’s churches in Gwarimpa in a bid to claim the land for his private use.
The actions of the FHA boss, they stated, were personal as no member of the governing board nor management was aware nor did they give any approval for the agency to grab lands in Abuja. The forum added that each time a new MD was appointed for FHA; they usually go after lands belonging to churches using the instrumentality of their office for private interest.
While calling on the IGP to call his men and officers to order, the forum said it was planning to demonstrate and fight “over this recurring oppression of the church by those who do not fear God,”
Macaulay said one of the affected churches had gone to court to restrain Ashafa and his cohorts, but lamented that the measure had not stopped them from threatening the church leadership over the land.
According to him, the FHA had gone to the “extent of demanding that the land should be shared as it was too large for the church.’’
“While the order subsists and parties duly represented in court, the Managing Director, FHA angrily mobilised armed policemen, rolled out their caterpillars and Bulldozers, and demolished all the properties on the claimant’s plot.’’
“We want Presidency to wade into this matter and investigate the actions of Senator Ashafa over land grabbing in Abuja. This is not the first church or land he is demanding to take since he was appointed MD of FHA,’’ Macaulay stated.
When LEADERSHIP contacted the FHA management of the matter, FHA 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 said to set records straight over what he described as emotional blackmail against the FHA by the church concerned, he asked the FCT Christian Elders Forum to ask the church leadership to prove its ownership of the land with authentic documents.
He 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.
Chigelu said, “We are putting it unequivocally that the church has no valid title on the 15,000sq metres of land it is claiming. It has no approved building plan, nor can it boast of receipts of payment or a genuine survey plan. Federal Housing Authority as a government agency has legitimately laid down procedures for land allocation. The church has no evidence of any of these processes.”