Residents of at least 10,288 houses in Mpape would be rendered homeless by August 31, as the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has said that it is fine-tuning arrangements for the demolition of the properties which it termed as illegal.
This is apart from properties to be demolished in 18 other villages which would suffer similar fate at the same period, even as there is a subsisting court order restraining the FCTA from carrying out the demolition.
The development is contrary to the directive of an Abuja High Court in Bwari last Friday: it ordered the parties to maintain the status quo and ordered the minister to halt the planned demolition of Mpape pending the determination of a substantive suit filed by Mpape residents asking the court to restrain the FCTA from demolishing their houses.
Though Justice Abubakar Kutigi refused to grant order of perpetual injunction to restrain the FCTA, he held that, with or without such order, once a matter was before a court of competent jurisdiction for adjudication, all parties in the matter were bound to maintain the status quo. He adjourned to October 11 for commencement of hearing of the substantive matter.
The FCTA had given a two-month notice to residents of Mpape and 18 other communities to leave the areas on or before August 31 as the areas had been earmarked for demolition.
The pronouncement by the FCTA has been the subject of protests and debate with many organisations, including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), wading in to ensure the rights of the people are not violated in the process.
But a statement from the office of the minister, signed by his chief press secretary, a copy of which was made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday, said the administration had already marked 10,288 illegal structures in Mpape for demolition just as it had intensified sensitisation and consultation with village chiefs and residents of the area.
According to the statement, the FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, who disclosed this during the monthly FCT Operations Briefing Session in Gwarinpa I District, Abuja, said the administration welcomed the court pronouncement of last Friday on the impending Mpape demolition and urged the affected persons to please show understanding.
The minister said while the FCTA would uphold the rule of law in consonance with the transformation agenda of the federal government, it was gratifying that the court "has justified the mandate of the FCT administration for such action thus far".
Mohammed appealed to residents to cooperate with the government as demolitions were carried out in the interest of the people since it was not intended to inflict hardship on the residents, adding that the sustained health as well as security of the collective populace are of paramount concern.
He added that apart from safeguarding the Abuja Master Plan, demolitions were usually carried out for sanitary and security reasons because threats in these realms had to be nipped in the bud.