Abuja natives fault FCTA’s warning to protesting women
Abuja natives under the aegis of Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA) have faulted the Minster of the Federal Capital Territory, Senator Bala Mohammed, over what they described as undemocratic behaviour and practices following his recent warning to traditional rulers against unlawful protest in the territory.
OIDA, instead, wants the minister to focus more on infrastructural and development challenges facing indigenous communities and Nigerians resident in Abuja rather than threatening original inhabitants, who are campaigning for their constitutional rights in the nation’s capital.
In a statement issued in Abuja by the media adviser of the group, Semner Shagari Sambo, it said it deemed it necessary to caution the minister during an emergency executive meeting attended by its executives and all the 13 FCT chiefdom coordinators of the association.
OIDA, while reacting to a warning issued by the minister against protesting women recently, urged him to get to the root of the matter by meeting with the women to hear their grievances rather than issue threat and warning through the media and traditional rulers.
The statement reads in part: “Abuja natives take exception to the FCT minister’s warning to our communities not to embark on any peaceful protest when in fact the FCT Administration’s policies are responsible for making the women to come out of their homes to protest. The threat to declare indigenous houses as shanties and illegal structures in preparation for demolition by the minister is at the heart of the protest.
“We also kick against the constant use of the police to harass and intimidate OIDA executives on grievances expressed by persons, who are not in any way connected officially to the association.”
The group identified peaceful protest as one of the basic ingredients of a democratic society, adding that it should not be viewed by those in government as challenging their authority.
The group pledged its support to the administration but urged that knotty issues surrounding Abuja’s original inhabitants be resolved through constant dialogue, consultation and reverence to the traditional institution and cultures of FCT indigenous people and communities.
It also asked land allottees to stay out of Abuja communal farmlands until all compensation and resettlement issues are resolved by the federal government.
Officials of the Abuja Envirnomental Protection Board (AEPB) at work during a sanitation exercise, organised by the board last weekend in Abuja.