Leadership (Abuja)

11 November 2012

Nigeria: Before They Send Senator Bala Muhammad to Jail

opinion

Of recent, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Senator Bala Muhammad has always been in the news for one negative reason or the other, At one point, he received, in no small measure, bashings for allegedly revoking a plot allocated to former First Lady, Hajiya Turai Yar'Adua's NGO, Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation (WAYEP) and giving the said plot to the incumbent First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.

This came alongside allegations that he had indicated interest to contest the governorship election of Bauchi State against the wish of the state governor and his former boss, Isa Yuguda.

At the moment, the heat against the minister is the on-going demolition in the FCT being carried out in line with federal government's effort to restore the Abuja master plan. A media report had recently claimed Mohammed risks going to jail because a High Court in the FCT had summoned him to appear before it on November 26, 2012 to face a legal action (Forms 48 and 49) being notice of the consequences of disobedience of court order and application for an order of committal to prison for disobeying the order of court filed against him.

According to the report, he is to explain why he should not be sent to jail for disobeying an order of the court.

However, for the purpose of setting record straight, the FCT minister had warned a number times that those occupying and acquiring illegal plots of land should get this right or face its dreaded bulldozers.

This directive was issued to address an ugly trend that posses as danger to nation building. Fake title documents and approvals of forged building plan on unapproved plots was becoming the order of the day in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).

It will suffice for some Nigerians to know at this point that it was during the tenure of Senator Mohammed that huge capital inflow worth over 2.6 Billion US Dollars and 1 Billion US Dollars for the Abuja Down Town development and Abuja World Trade Centre respectively was recorded.

Already, the foundation stone of the Abuja World Trade Centre has been laid within this short period of his administration. In addition, he has been able to fix the awkward problem of third and fourth water treatment plants, including tanks 1 and VI in addition to its reticulation using the ductile pipe which has since frustrated the completion of this Multi-Billion-Naira contract.

When it comes to the demolition exercise, it would not be too surprising that the minister is confronted with stiff opposition laced with fierce criticisms. The life saving fortunes of innocent Nigerians who are the victims of fraudsters and land thieves are involved here.

But this painful but inevitable move by government to sanitise the nation's capital is akin, not only to Nigeria. It happens in other countries in the world. In Lenesia, South West of Johanneburg, protesters on Friday set the town ablaze with tyres, cordoning roads in their bid to stop government bulldozers from destroying their houses built on illegally acquired plots.

The Gauteng provincial housing department, according to AFP, report said it had already demolished 37 of 113 houses. The report further noted that South Africa is faced with "a massive housing backlog with nearly two million people living in informal shacks".

So, tackling the menace of land related fraud and restoring the master plan of the nation's capital requires nerves and audacity, as many toes must be stepped on during the entire process. But between sturborn defence of position and fearless discussions, there is a nexus of understanding; and that nexus is that the land administrtation in FCT must be sanitised.

Senator Muhammad, in the face of these political ramblings from his detractors' camp, is occupied with the task delegated on him by President Goodluck Jonathan and other national assignments in support of the transformation agenda of the President to justify the confidence reposed in him by the federal government to even think of what happens in the state.

It is for this reason that the political vampires have decided to extend their poisonous fangs to the FCT where the ongoing demolition is taking place, orchestrating all kinds of media war against the minister.

While he has been taking to court for discharging a national assignment giving to him in the capacity of the honourable minister of the nation's capital, it would be subjudice to pre-empt the decision of the court. But one truth has and will always stand the test of time, which is that history and history alone, vindicates the just.

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