PROP­ERTY Abuja community gets 30 days quit no­tice

Daily Trust - - PROPERTY - By Mustapha Suleiman

To make Abuja build­ings con­form to the city’s orig­i­nal mas­ter plan, the FCTA, through the de­part­ment of De­vel­op­ment Con­trol, had of­ten em­barked on de­mo­li­tion of build­ings and structures in the ter­ri­tory.

Be­sides de­mo­li­tions, build­ings that vi­o­late build­ing stan­dards or erected where they were not sup­posed to be are sealed.

While in some cases, build­ings are de­mol­ished for fail­ing in­tegrity test or sealed for in­tegrity test to be con­ducted on them as a pre­cau­tion­ary ac­tion to avert col­lapse.

Not­with­stand­ing the rea­sons gov­ern­ment used to give to jus­tify de­mo­li­tion of structures, some people have di­ver­gent views on de­mo­li­tion of build­ings that res­i­dents spent their hard earned sav­ings to build. These people ar­gue that, the FCTA ought to have, through proper mon­i­tor­ing and reg­u­la­tions, pre­vented such build­ings from spring­ing up in the first place, rather than wait un­til people com­pleted them and set­tled in them and de­stroy them.

One of the ar­eas await­ing the bull­doz­ers of the De­vel­op­ment Con­trol De­part­ment of the FCTA is Sabo Iddo vil­lage, along Air­port Road.

The FCT, Wed­nes­day, is­sued res­i­dents of the area one month no­tice to vol­un­tar­ily leave the community or face the FCT De­vel­op­ment Con­trol De­part­ment’s bull­doz­ers.

To show its level of se­ri­ous­ness over the im­pend­ing de­mo­li­tion of the community, the De­vel­op­ment Con­trol of­fi­cials, ac­com­pa­nied by a com­bined team of armed po­lice­men and sol­diers, stormed the community to in­form the res­i­dents and the community’s head, Al­kali Ibrahim, of the de­ci­sion to de­mol­ish build­ings stand­ing on a large ex­panse of land in the community.

The Deputy Di­rec­tor, Mon­i­tor­ing and En­force­ment, Kuchume S. Bawa, who led the team, told the community that the set­tle­ment was il­le­gal and encroached per­ma­nent site of the Univer­sity of Abuja.

Bawa said that the set­tle­ment would be to­tally de­mol­ished as it is lo­cated within the area al­lo­cated for the univer­sity.

He said that at the ex­pi­ra­tion of the one month no­tice, of­fi­cials of the de­part­ment would re­turn to the community to carry out in­ten­sive mark­ing of houses in the vil­lage.

He said that though the gov­ern­ment adopted di­a­logue method in its ef­fort to stop build­ing of il­le­gal structures and ex­pan­sion of the set­tle­ment, is­suance of re­moval no­tice and or ac­tual re­moval of il­le­gal build­ings are part of the rou­tine func­tion of the de­part­ment, under the Abuja Met­ro­pol­i­tan Man­age­ment Coun­cil (AMMC).

He stressed that the de­part­ment in­stead of storm­ing the community with its bull­doz­ers to en­force re­moval of the il­le­gal structures on the univer­sity’s land, the of­fi­cials chose to visit the area to in­form the people con­cerned to vol­un­tar­ily leave the place to avoid recording loss of any kind.

“Be­fore, we just moved in and start car­ry­ing out re­moval of il­le­gal structures, but now that is not what we do,” he said. “We first di­a­logue with the people con­cerned, so that we will now know what their problems are and the best strate­gies to be used to re­move the il­le­gal structures.”

As soon as the de­vel­op­ment con­trol gave the community one month no­tice to va­cate the area, fear and de­spair en­gulfed the res­i­dents. The vil­lage is said to be oc­cu­pied by about 30,000 indige­nous Gbagyi na­tives of Abuja and other set­tlers.

Daily Trust gath­ered that ma­jor­ity of the Sabo Iddo set­tlers are farm­ers, ar­ti­sans and busi­ness­men.

The res­i­dents ex­pressed their shock and dis­be­lief over the de­vel­op­ment.

Chief of Sabo Iddo community, Yakubu Musa Al­kali, said that the claim made by the au­thor­i­ties that the set­tle­ment is il­le­gal is un­true as the place has been in ex­is­tence for a very long time.

He said that the area is their ances­tral land and he was born in the community and had seen the de­vel­op­ment of FCT to what it is to­day with­out any­body threat­en­ing to dis­place them.

He said that they were not in­formed of any de­mo­li­tion no­tice un­til Wed­nes­day, adding that nor­mal pro­ce­dures were not fol­lowed by the de­part­ment’s of­fi­cials.

“The chief of Garki ought to be com­mu­ni­cated to and then the dis­trict head of Iddo who will then briefed me of the gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tions, but that wasn’t done,” he said.

Al­kali said that in his po­si­tion as the ward head, he has no in­ten­tion of tak­ing up the mat­ter with the FCTA, as the dis­trict head who he is di­rectly under, would take the next line of ac­tion.

The head said that it wasn’t only Sabo Iddo that is said to en­croach the land al­lo­cated to the Univer­sity of Abuja, won­der­ing why the community was the only one sin­gled out for de­mo­li­tion. Be­side, he said, the pop­u­la­tion there is too large to be given a month’s quit no­tice.

Al­kali, how­ever, ap­pealed to the gov­ern­ment to re­con­sider its de­ci­sion to de­mol­ish their houses, say­ing that his people have no other place to go if they are forced out of the community.

When Daily Trust asked some of the res­i­dents on whether they would com­ply with the author­ity’s di­rec­tive, they said that their fate rest squarely in the hands of the ward head, whom they hope would seek jus­tice for them.

A res­i­dent, Rose­line Musa, who looked wor­ried, said that she has been liv­ing in the community for many years now and would find it dif­fi­cult to cope if they were forced out.

“I live here with my two chil­dren,” she said. “I also en­gage in petty busi­ness here. They should please leave us alone be­cause we are man­ag­ing our­selves here and have al­ways re­mained law abid­ing.”

Daily Trust ob­served many houses un­der­go­ing con­struc­tion and farms com­pet­ing for space in the community.

A view of Sabon Iddo, a community on Air­port Road

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