A major disagreement has erupted between Abuja indigenes and the Federal Capital Territory Administration over the claim by the latter that it has so far spent about N12 billion for the resettlement and payment of compensation to the aborigines.
The natives, who claim that they have been deprived of their means of livelihood because of the conversion of their land for the development of the nation's capital, said the majority of them had neither been compensated nor resettled by the FCT.
Findings by our correspondent reveal that while some of the original indigenes of the FCT have resorted to persuading the authorities to come to compensate them for their land, many of them have opted to challenge the administration legally.
One of the traditional rulers in the FCT whose land had been taken over by the government, Chief Samuel Yabusan, of Gbagyi, told leadership weekend that they were disappointed by the way the FCT had been treating them over the payment of compensation to them.
Yabusan, who is the chief of Jabi, lamented the lack of land for his subjects to farm and build, regreting that although his people were willing to be resettled by the authorities, the FCDA was not prepared to do so.
He explained that the community was offered a small settlement of one-bedroom apartment at Jibi with no provision for expansion, prompting his people to reject the offer.
The monarch noted that, several years after this initial move, the FCDA had not been able to resettle them even when budgets for resettlement and compensations are usually made. To worsen the matter, according to him, the FCDA has stopped them from building houses on their ancestral lands even when their population is on the increase.
He lamented government's insensitivity to their plights just as he bemoaned the selling of their lands without leaving the relics of Gbagyi culture in their ancestral lands.
" We are ready to be resettled but the FCDA has refused to do the right thing. They took us to Jibi where they built very small houses that cannot accommodate us. To make matters worse, there are no lands for farming and expansion. They know we are farmers. How can we survive?" he asked.
Meanwhile, Gosa indigenes along the airport road have also dragged the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, and the Nigeria Police to court for what they described as abuse of their fundamental human rights and forceful ejection of the indigenes from their homes.
Counsel to the plaintiff Barr. Baba Panya Musa said that the FCT violated the fundamental human rights of the indigenes by demolishing their houses without duly compensating or relocating them.
"What is happening is great injustice, not just to the Gosa people, but to every indigenous inhabitant and community in Abuja yet to be compensated or resettled by the government".
Similarly, in the Apo area of the FCT, agitations are also going on over compensation and resettlement. In this case, the indigenes have been resettled but there are still issues of compensation to settle. Following this development, the youths under the aegis of Joint Youth Indigenous Communities of Apo Resettlement Site, called a press briefing where it urged the FCDA to revoke all commercial plots in the resettlement area meant for indigenes or face unpleasant action from the community.
Christopher Zaka who spoke for others explained that the decision was borne out of the failure of the FCT Administration to settle the problem faced by the resettled indigenes.
He wondered why the FCDA also allocated parks, gardens and plot allocations to other individuals that are not indigenes and called on the government to revoke the allocations.
In addition, the youths also demanded cash payment for crops, economic trees and replacement of farmland to all the farmers.
'But the director of resettlement and compensation at the FCDA, Mr. Kenneth Okechukwu, said yesterday that the present administration had done its best to resettle and compensate the original land owners in the city and should be commended rather than chastised.
He said that the department was aware of the numerous complaints from the indigenes and that it was doing something to address genuine concerns of the people.
Okechukwu said, "The federal government has spent between N10 billion and N12 billion on resettlement and compensation since the capital was moved from Lagos to Abuja. But the problem we have stems from policy somersaults."
"The FCT wants to make sure that the indigenes are well catered for and for us to do that we have to make sure that the areas are adequately taken care of before they move in.
"I don't think there is need for introduction of violence or for them to be threatening violence because that could be an indirect way to intimidate the FCT to do what is not proper," Okechukwu said.
The director however declined to give the number of those so far compensated or resettled by the FCT.
The issue of compensation and resettlement has remained a thorny matter since Abuja became the new Nigerian capital.