18 October 2012

Nigeria: Abuja Demolition - RCCG, Winners Chapel, 35 More Estates to Go - FCTA

Despite the controversy generated by the demolition of over 500 housing units by officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration's department of development control in Lugbe 1 Extension, Gosa, recently, the FCTA says 37 more estates have been pencilled in for demolition. There is no going back on the demolitions of the "illegal" structures, it said.

The development control department, on September 28 and 29, demolished about 500 housing units at Minanuel Estate. The demolition of the houses has received a lot of negative reactions from the media and various other stakeholders and rights activists.

The National Assembly joint committee on the FCT led by Senator Smart Adeyemi had visited the Minanuel Estate where the senator expressed shock that development was going on land allocated to "National Assembly members and other Nigerians".

Adeyemi had, during the visit to the estate, queried the development control for allowing the development to continue to about 80 per cent completion unabated and had demanded that both officials of the department and the developers should meet with the Senate. A meeting was held and another meeting was rescheduled for October 2, 2012, to further deliberate on the matter but, before that date, the development control rolled out its bulldozers and demolished the estate.

Subscribers to the estate, under the auspices of Coalition of Minanuel Estate Subscribers Union, on Tuesday carried out a peaceful protest at the entrance of the National Assembly where they presented a petition address to Senate president David Mark, calling on the legislators to intervene and see to it that justice is done in the matter, Deputy director of the department, Hamza Madaki, who was a guest on Raypower FM public affairs programme, "Political Platform", yesterday threatened that there was no going back on demolition of any illegal structure in the territory.

He said that, apart from the estates so far demolished, 37 other estates had been earmarked for demolition.

A list obtained by LEADERSHIP from the department of development control shows that RCCG Estates; Sites A, B, C and D belonging to the Redeemed Christian Church of God; and Goshen Estate 1 and 2, belonging to Living Faith Church (AKA Winners Chapel) located in Pyakasa as well as NEPA Cooperative Estate and Civil Defence/Defenders Estate located in Lugbe CRD and Sabon Lugbe respectively are among the estates to be affected by the demolitions.

Other estates to be demolished are Trademore Estate, Sabon Lugbe; Lento Estate, Pyakasa; Pent House Estate, Sabon Lugbe; Grenland Estate, Kyami; Doctor's Court Estate, Sabon Lugbe; Isvin Estate, Kyami; Ejima Group Estate, Kyami; Good Heart Grup Estate, Lugbe CRD; Redwood/Bidmusdruhill Estate, Kyami; and Weather Field Estate, Sabon Lugbe, among others.

The deputy director insisted that several notices had been served the demolished estates right from the time of excavation at the construction sites of the affected estates, apart from public announcements warning people not to patronise estates after Lugbe.

According to him, the department had observed fake layouts and estates on that part of the town and had taken the pain to educate people not to fall prey to those masquerading as estate developers without any legal documents to the land they were building on.

Madaki said while the administration was pained to carry out such demolition because of the economic loss, it could not condone illegality in line with the Abuja master plan.

On the morality of demolishing such huge number of houses while the city was grappling with the challenge of adequate housing, he said it was not an excuse for illegality.

Special adviser, media and publicity, to the FCT Minister Mr. Nosike Ogbuenyi, who was also a guest on the programme, said the FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, felt compassion for the people and wished things could be different but the law had to take its course.

"The minister's heart is with the victims but I must say his heart is with the law," Ogbuenyi said.

On the issue of compensation for those affected by the demolitions, Ogbuenyi ruled out the possibility, saying he was not in a position to dictate for the administration since there was no official statement on that from the administration but insisted that any resident of the FCT that violates laid-down regulations must face the law.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Smart Adeyemi, has however described the planned demolition of the 37 estates as sheer madness.

Adeyemi, who said the Senate would do everything possible to ensure that the planned action never happened, said the Senate had already summoned a meeting of all parties involved in the demolition of Minanuel Estate to appear before them today where all issues relating to the matter would be thrashed out and resolved.

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