- The Senate’s Involvement
- FCT Minister’s Role
Though authorities of the Federal Capital Territory have continually stated that the demolition exercise currently being done is necessary in order to ensure that the master plan of the FCT is followed, indications have emerged that the demolition is not without some intrigues and power play.
By the time the Department of Control of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council announced last week that it would soon begin the demolition of illegal structures along the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport Road, Abuja, Street Journal’s findings revealed that more than 400 housing units had already been demolished. Bulldozers were seen on the site as of Saturday evening and by the time the bulldozers left, the well laid out estates were left in ruins.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Department’s Director, Yahaya Yusuf addressed a press conference in which he said 100 buildings were pulled down.
The Director said “the demolition affected estates belonging to the Nigerian Prisons Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and Liberty Estate”.
According to him, “the developers ignored the various ‘stop work and quit notices’ served on them and the department had no alternative than to pull down the structures, many of which were at advanced levels.”
While Yahaya stated that his department had never carried out demolitions without inputs from stakeholders including the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Street Journal’s checks revealed that most of those whose estates were demolished,along the Airport Road, in Lugbe were caught unawares. One of the developers who spoke with Street Journal disclosed that he never got any “stop work” notice from the Department. He made it known that he had all the valid documents for the land and wondered how the structures there could have been illegal. “Without any notification, the bulldozers just came in and started pulling down everything on the site”, the developer said. ”
Street Journal’s investigations revealed that while the Mater Plan story is being used to justify the demolition exercise, plans are underway to allocate the land mass around the airport to Senators.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed had disclosed that the demolition would continue until the original master plan of the FCT is achieved. Also lending his voice to the demolition, Senator Smart Adeyemi said slums should be demolished “basically because Abuja is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and criminals come to hibernate in Abuja when they are declared wanted”.
Meanwhile, an indication also emerged that not all the demolition exercises may be backed by law as the FCT Minister will on November 26 appear before an Abuja High Court to explain why he should not be sent to jail for allegedly disobeying an order of the court. Justice Folasade Ojo of the High Court had on April 13 ordered the FCT authorities not to proceed with the planned demolition of residential buildings at Iddo- Sarki- Pada communities, a suburb in Abuja but the plaintiff informed the court that the demolition was carried out in the area.
While the contempt of court controversy and the demolition that trailed it rage on, the recent demolition carried out along the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Road has continued to generate questions, most of which are still begging for answers. Authorities of the FCT are however silent on most of them. For instance, it is being asked in some quarters whether the Senators were part of the master plan of the Federal Capital Territory. While the developers are counting their losses in billions of Naira, other questions on people’s lips include “will Lugbe serve as the new site for legislators’ quarters? What happens when another set of Senators come in another few years? Will another land be grabbed for them?”
If the system continues, with some of the Senators having spent more than three terms and still serving, by the time their apartments are sold off to them by the Government, some of them would own quite a number of choice properties courtesy of the Government’s monetization policy.