ICPC uncovers massive fraud in Abuja's land administration system

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration is a major centre of fraud and corruption characterized by “forgeries and cloning of land document,” the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC) has said.

The commission made the observation in a report entitled “Summary of the Report of the Systems Study and Review of Lands Administration in the Federal Capital Territory”, and presented publicly to the FCT Minister at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

The report, which was published after six months of comprehensive review of the FCT administration, identified 13 “corruption red flags” in the FCT.

These include “forgeries and cloning of land document, allocations of plots of land made without the FCT Ministers approval, presence (beyond regulated time of two years) of pockets of undeveloped plots of land in districts with engineering infrastructure, and missing of land documents in AGIS [Abuja Geographic Information System] and Land Administration department.”

Other red flags include “existence of land syndicates and speculators, revocation of certain land titles without due process, fake layouts and fraudulent allocations in area councils, differences in land use in the records of AGIS and Urban and Regional Planning Department.”

The remaining observations in the FCT administration are file scams in AGIS/land administration department, delays in processing land documents, AGIS payment scam, complaints about ‘pressures from well-connected individuals and groups’ on staff to circumvent laid-down procedures and presence of touts around the premises of AGIS land administration department and similar establishments.

The report also identified "too much power in the hands of the FCT Minister as one of the “predisposing factors for corruption in lands administration in the FCT”.

Some of the 17 factors which allow corruption to thrive in the FCT, according to the report, are “the huge discretionary powers given the FCT minister under the land use act of 1978 and the FCT act of 1976; the excessive discretional powers of the director of land administration department in determining which land applications are fully processed for ministerial approval; and the lack of policy documents and standardized procedures regarding land administration processes.”

The report also reveals that staff of the AGIS, the Land Administration Department, and the Department of Development Control are blameworthy of “abuse of power, conflict of interest, bribery, fraud, and favouritism” among “negative acts” that have “high probability of occurrence in their operations.”

In order to ensure transparency and eliminate corruption in the FCT administration, several steps which have been categorized into short term (in three months), medium term (in six months), and long term (in 12 months and beyond) were recommended by the ICPC.

Some of the recommendations include the development of “a customized corruption prevention plan,” carrying out “independent audits of some FCT agencies,” and institution of “internet based e-governance.”

The public presentation also served as an opportunity for other anti-corruption chiefs to talk about corruption in the FCT administration.

Ibrahim Lamorde, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), also lamented the corruption going on in the FCT administration.

“If there is something we in the anti-corruption agencies are worried about, it is land administration in the Federal Capital Territory,” Mr. Lamorde said.

The EFCC boss explained that his commission had gotten and was investigating several allegations of scam and corruption involving land in the FCT.

“It is the biggest scam that is going on now in the Federal Capital Territory,” he said.

The acting chairman of the ICPC, Ekpo Nta, while speaking about the worrisome trend of the corruption in the FCT administration, stated that his commission would not relent after the system review.

“The fact that we’ve done this study and submitted it to the FCT should not make any staff believe that is the end. If you refuse to bend to system review, we’ll help straighten you by the enforcement aspect,” he said.

The FCT Minister Bala Muhammed, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the FCT, Anthony Ozodinobi, stated that his ministry would go back and “digest the report.”

“The contents of this report are instruments and every effort will be made to put to use in fullest the recommendations contained therein,” he said.

 

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