Street Journal’s findings have revealed that at least one quarter of the land at hitherto occupied by privately owned estates on the Airport Road, Lugbe, Abuja has been allocated to members of the National Assembly. Not less than 500 out of the 3, 000 plots of land have been allocated to Senators and Members of the House of Representatives.
Findings however revealed that back in 2004, the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) sold the land to Nigerians who were interested in developing residential estates to ease the problem of accommodation in the Federal Capital.
The allocation of the stretch of land along the Airport Road was approved and perfected by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Bala Mohammed in circumstances that yet remain unclear. It is being alleged in some quarters that the allocation was to favour lawmakers, some of who were former colleagues of the FCT Minister, as he was once a Senator. The yardstick of the allocation is yet unknown as a good number of the 469 lawmakers (109 Senators and 360 House of Reps members) have already gotten choice properties within the FCT before now, especially those who have spent more than a term in the National Assembly. The Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Hon Zakari Mohammed disclosed that the new allocation was done based on individual applications from the NASS members. He however denied that the members specified that they wanted the land along the airport road.
By the end of September, 2012, bulldozers moved in and demolished a good number of buildings most of which had reached advanced stages of completion. The value of properties destroyed has been conservatively put at about N 2 billion. The Abuja administration defended its action as it said the owners of the buildings bought the land from the wrong government. The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) has also said AMAC, which sold the land to the developers did not have any right to the land. The FCDA also told the estate developers that they would not be given the option of normalizing their land titles with the FCDA, an indication that the FCDA has no intention of paying compensation.
While speaking on the issue, Josephine Mudashiru, the spokesperson for the Development Control Department of the FCDA said “if the lands are genuine from FCT Departments of Lands, then I assure you that such an estate will not be affected,” Though she did not state that the land had been re-allocated, the identities of the new owners was confirmed by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the FCT, Emmanuel Jime. Apparently trying to do damage control, Hon Jime disclosed that the allocation given to the National Assembly was less than 20 % of the land. He said out of the 3,000 plots on the estate, only 500 were allocated to National Assembly members.
Findings have revealed that a battle might soon start between the owners of the land and the FCT administration as they have disclosed that they obtained genuine receipts and other documents from AMAC as well as the necessary papers from the FCDA when they bought the land.
They have also disclosed that AMAC did not say it had no right to the land that was sold to them. It is believed that the owners of the estates are just victims of one of Nigeria’s power games.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the FCT, Smart Adeyemi, who is obviously one of those who stand to benefit from the demolition and take-over of the land, seems unconvinced by the claims of the estate developers. He said “since you (the owner of the estate) have told us that you did not get your papers from the Development Control Office, and AMAC has said that it did not have the authority to give approval for construction of estates, it means your documents are fake,”
Owners of the land have approached the National Assembly to wade in, though in some quarters, the action is being described as a wink in the dark which won’t avail much. It is also uncertain whether any relief would come their way as they have gone to report to the new proprietors of their demolished estates.
A factor that also points to the fact that the lawmakers had specific interest in the airport road land emerged when the same legislators who justified the demolition of the Minanuel estate and others around it asked the FCDA to halt its planned demolition of 37 other estates. Senator Adeyemi said wide consultations need to be embarked on with relevant stakeholders before a conclusion should be reached on the matter of the 37 other estates. That might however mean that the matter of the demolished estates have been concluded by the members of the National Assembly who incidentally are the new landlords.