Abuja administration demolishes 300 houses as property owners cry foul

The property owners allege that the confiscated land would be allocated  to lawmakers
The property owners allege that the confiscated land would be allocated to lawmakers

Estate developers in Gosa community have accused authorities of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, of wrongfully destroying their homes, causing losses running to billions of naira. They also accused the FCT administration of planning to re-issue the lands to lawmakers and other government functionaries.

About 300 houses were destroyed in the community, located between Lugbe and Gwagwalada in the outskirt of Abuja, the Nigerian capital. Some of the estates in the community, from which houses were destroyed, include Kacha, Joafra, Isvin Divine, and Matovinco. Most of the demolished houses were yet to be occupied.

The demolitions, still ongoing, are being carried out by the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA.

A site manager in one of the estates claimed that most of property owners were not contacted before demolition.

“If not for people that called me, I wouldn’t have known that anything was happening here,” the man, who wouldn’t want his name in published, said.

Another site manager said that before he could salvage anything from his property, thieves had invaded to loot most of the materials in the house.

The boss of Kacha Integrated Services Nigeria, an estate firm, who was seen trying to recover what was left of his demolished property, lamented his loss.

“I spent approximately ten million excluding the money for the land. I bought the land for 5.5 million Naira and we’ve not even heard anything from the government,” he said.

He added that he went, with other property owners, to the National Assembly to lay complaints; and that the property owners’ lawyers also filed cases in court on the matter.

“We heard that this place has been revoked and given out the National Assembly and the Senate,” he said.

Officials react

An official of the FCDA, who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES at the scene of the demolition, said “some people claimed they bought the lands from Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and AMAC doesn’t have the right to sell any land to anybody, it is only the Development control of FCDA that can issue lands out.”

The official claimed that the development control department asked genuine property owners to go to the FCDA for clearance, and possible compensation, before the houses were marked for demolition.

“Yet, nobody came for the clearance,” he said.

He added that “on July, 10 2012, the government issued a ‘stop work.’ Precisely one month later, the development control department issued a warning for demolition and the demolition started after a month plus”

The spokesperson for the Development Control Department of the FCDA, Josephine Mudashiru, told PREMIUM TIMES that “notices were served, some structures were marked and removed at foundation level.”

“These structures do not have valid land documents or building plan approval. Announcements were made last year warning people not to patronize these fraudsters and at that time the estates have not been developed,” she said.

Ms. Mudashiru said her agency could not have demolished property that were genuinely gotten from departments of the FCT.

“If the lands are genuine from FCT Departments of Lands, then I assure you that such an estate will not be affected.”

She also declined comment on the allegation that the property were being demolished in order to re-allocate the land to serving lawmakers.

“As to who and what the plot in the estates are meant for? Urban and regional planning Department responsible for the new layout and lands department will be in a better position to answer as ours is to make developments come up in line with the master plan,” Ms. Mudashiru said.

Efforts to get the FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed, to react to allegations that he plans to re-allocate the Gisa land to his former colleagues in the National Assembly were unsuccessful. Mr. Mohammed’s Chief Press Secretary, Mohammed Sule, did not return calls or sms to his phone.