18 April 2019

Nigeria: AIT Silent On Demolition of Abuja Structures

Abuja — Two days after the demolition of its structures in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, DAAR Group of Companies, owners of AIT and Raypower FM, has remained silent over Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA)'s action.

When The Guardian made several attempts yesterday to speak to senior officials of DAAR, including its Group Managing Director, Tony Akiotu, they neither picked their calls nor responded to text messages sent to their cell phones.

But the FCTA confirmed that it removed only a portion of African Independent Television fence holding the security gate that encroached into other people's property and blocked access to major roads in Asokoro District, Abuja.

Briefing journalists after the exercise, Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Umar Shuaibu, explained that the action became necessary following refusal by DAAR Group to adjust the fence inward to allow other property owners access to their homes.

He explained that the AMMC discussed with management of DAAR before the removal was carried out.

Umar said: "In November last year, the Management of DAAR Communications led by Chief Raymond Dokpesi paid a courtesy visit to the FCT Minister and they were received on his behalf by Chief of Staff, Bashir Mai-Borno, who led the FCTA team made up of relevant directors and others in discussions."

He explained that the purpose of the discussions was to resolve the protracted dispute regarding the actual size of land allocated to DAAR Communications, as against the area covered by their perimeter fence.

Also speaking, Director, Department of Development Control, Muktar Galadima, revealed that the piece of land belonging to AIT covers only 18 hectares, adding that the media outfit has merely submitted application for building approval, which his department was still processing.

He pointed out that at that level, it meant that any development on the land violated the FCTA's development control rules. .

Refuting insinuations that the removal was politically motivated, Galadima noted that the matter dates back to about 2007 and that the "precast fence and gate house, which blocked other people's access were removed."

The Guardian also learnt that, AIT extended its precast fence beyond its scope and encroached into other people's land.

It was also discovered that surveyors commissioned by the two parties had determined the exact size and boundary of the land falling before the fence, but AIT failed to keep to the agreement to adjust it to agreed limit, necessitating the removal.

All efforts to speak with staff of DAAR Group on the site failed, but when Akiotu finally came out, he said the organisation would comment on the matter in due course.

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