5 September 2000

Nigeria: Rasheed Raji Converts Government House to Personal Property

Lagos — The Brigadier-General Oluwole Rotimi Commission investigating federal government landed properties yesterday in Lagos, heard how a former military administrator of Sokoto and Bauchi States, Navy Captain Rasheed Raji (rtd) purportedly converted a duplex belonging to the federal government in highbrow Ikoyi, Lagos into his personal property.

Testifying before the commission, Captain Raji admitted that he demolished the former building at No 21a Adeyemi Lawson Street, Ikoyi and rebuilt it to suit his taste and accommodation requirements as the old house was too small for him.

The former MILAD who agreed that he did not have any title to the property, stated that he rebuilt the place because he felt that after serving as military administrator, he would still have about fifteen years to spend in the Navy before retirement.

"I had the belief that if things work out well, I can still serve the nation for the next fifteen years and still live in the house before retiring to my village but fate changed the whole thing, because man proposes but God disposes," he lamented.

Captain Raji who said the house was allocated to him by the federal ministry of works and housing in 1996, said he wanted to regularise his papers but only received verbal assurances from the former ministers of works and housing General Abdulkareem Adisa and Garba Ali Mohammed .

Asked by the commission the maximum period he was allowed by law to occupy the building after retirement, Captain Raji said it was three months, but added that he had remained in the building because of the huge amount invested in its re-construction and the fact that he had applied to the ministry to regularise the title.

The former administrator also told the commission that he carried out the development without the approval of the ministry of works and housing.

Commission chairman, Brigadier-General Rotimi who commended Captain Raji for speaking the truth, however wondered how he could embark upon what he called "a very expensive gamble," by rebuilding a property he had no title to.

Earlier, former communications minister, Senator David Mark had appeared before the commission over allegations that he alienated federal government landed property in his hometown, Oturkpo in Benue State.

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