6 February 2007

Nigeria: El-Rufai Pulls Down Zwingina's House

Abuja — The Abuja palatial residence of Senator Jonathan Zwingina, Deputy Senate Leader, was yesterday levelled by the authorities of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).

The main building with aits attachments located directly behind the Community Staff School, along Maitama Sule Street, Asokoro, were demolished allegedly on the orders of the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.

Mallam el-Rufai is expected to speak formally on the issue today at a press conference on the 30th anniversary of Abuja.

Senator Zwingina in a sharp reaction to the development said there was a court order against the demolition of the house. Contacted yesterday, an angry Zwingina merely reeled out a court pronouncement since 2006 restraining the minister from demolishing the house.

The order given by Justice Salisu Garba gave an interim injunction restraining el-Rufai, his agents and privies from demolishing Zwingina's house on Plot 2505, A4, Asokoro, Abuja pending the determination of the motion on notice.

But Mr. Ifeanyi Ughumandu, Public Relations Officer of the Abuja Metropolitan Agency said both the land and the papers claimed by Senator Zwingina were fake. Ughumandu said the land was part of the illegal lands issued by Engr. Success, a notorious land racketeer behind many of the illegal land allocations before the advent of the present administration.

The bulldozers of the FCDA escorted by a strong detachment of heavily armed policemen arrived the residence around 9.00 a.m. and immediately proceeded to knock down the building.

The building which according to FCDA officials is in a green area of Asokoro initially received the demolition notice some two years ago alongside most of the buildings in the area.

When the shopping complexes in the neighbourhood were demolished last year, Senator Zwingina's residence was spared allegedly through the political intervention of some senior officials of the Senate.

Senator Zwingina's solidarity with the People's Democratic Party (PDP) on the third term agenda was supposed to have further consolidated his claim to continued ownership of the land and the building.

When Vanguard visited the former residence yesterday, labourers and other artisans were busy trading on scraps and other accessories scavenged from the building.

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