Mark in Battle to Retain Abuja Residence as FG Alleges Illegal Acquisition

The former Senate President, David Mark, currently representing Benue South in the National Assembly, is embroiled with the Federal Government in a legal tussle to retain his Abuja home which the government has accused him of illegally acquiring.
The mansion, his then official residence as the Senate President, the Federal Government alleged, he converted to his private property.
According to reports, the government, through the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, which is chaired by Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, was said to have given the former Senate President a 21-day notice to quit the mansion in September this year.
The Federal Government had allegedly asked Mark to show cause why the house should not be recovered from him.
In a letter with reference number SPIP/INV/2017/VOL.1/17 and dated September 5, 2017, the Obono-Obla-led Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property said Mark acquired the “national monument” in clear breach of the monetisation policy of the Federal Government.
The letter, signed by Obono-Obla and titled ‘Investigation activities: Notice to recover public property in your care’, and addressed to Mark, stated in part: “The extant Monetisation Policy of the Federal Government, as enunciated and still being implemented, excludes all Principal Officers of the National Assembly and hence places the responsibility on the Federal Government to provide accommodation for them, same which you allegedly illegally appropriated.”
The letter asked Mark “to take steps within the next 21 days to vacate the said property or show cause why the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should not enforce the recovery of the said property for public good.”
However, Mark had approached a Federal High Court in Abuja to halt qall steps taken by the panel to evict and recover the house from him.
The Senate President’s official residence is sited on 1.6 hectares of land at 1 Musa Usman Street, (also known as No. 1 Chuba Okadigbo Street), Apo Legislative Quarters, Gudu, Abuja.
According to title documents, the property comprises eight structures, made up of the main house, ADC/chief security detail’s house, guest chalet, security/generator house, boys quarters, security post, driver/servants’ quarters and chapel.
The eight structures are said to be properly spaced and linked with well-paved drive and walkways and further done with lawns.
Mark is accused of illegally acquiring the property with the approval of former President Goodluck Jonathan despite that such property was excluded from the monetisation policy of the Federal Government.
Copies of correspondences and other documents, leading to the purchase and eventual handover of the property to Mark in April, 2011, showed that the serving Senator purchased the property at a “reserved price” of N673,200,000.
Meanwhile, in his letter, dated October 28, 2010, seeking the then President Jonathan’s approval for the sale of the property, the then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, had indicated that the open market value of the property was N748,000,000.
In addition, the then minister specifically stated that the Federal Executive Council had, in 2004, mandated the Federal Capital Territory Administration to sell all Federal Government’s “non-essential housing units in Abuja under specific rules and guidelines.”
Exempted from this arrangement are the official residences of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker.
He stated that the exemption was “expressly contained in the Federal Government of Nigeria’s Official Gazette No. 82, Vol. 92 of August 15, 2005.”
In justifying the request for the then President’s approval for the sale, the former Minister noted that all the houses in Apo Legislative Quarters, with the exception of the official residences of the four principal officers of the National Assembly, had been sold to the legislators occupying them at the time or the general public, under the Federal Government’s monetisation arrangement.
The former Minister however stated that sale of other houses in the Apo Legislative Quarters had “altered the general security provision for the area and extension, the security of the leading principal officers of the National Assembly.”

Author: News Editor

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