The FCT change agenda amidst crafty bu­reau­crats

Daily Trust - - PROPERTY -

Due to the fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­i­ties of cor­rupt land of­fi­cers, es­pe­cially in the ar­eas of land ad­min­is­tra­tion and trans­ac­tions, the FCTA, in most cases, end up as the loser any­time it is sued by pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions for land re­lated mat­ters. The cur­rent FCT Ad­min­is­tra­tion re­cently in­au­gu­rated a com­mit­tee to rec­om­mend so­lu­tions to the mul­ti­tudes of com­plain on land mat­ters. But, while this de­vel­op­ment is wel­comed, the com­mit­tee should deal with the of­fi­cial reck­less­ness in­volv­ing the FCT land of­fi­cers, who used to cause the Ad­min­is­tra­tion dis­re­pute and fi­nan­cial loss.

Most le­gal vic­to­ries against the FCTA on lands re­lated cases are ac­com­pa­nied with heavy fines, amount­ing to mil­lions of Naira, as pay­ments for dam­ages over lands that were wrongly re­voked, or built prop­er­ties wrongly de­mol­ished. Rec­om­men­da­tions from Lands Depart­ment for min­is­te­rial ap­provals to re­voke a land, or De­vel­op­ment Con­trol to de­mol­ish a struc­ture have to be based on ex­tant rules and reg­u­la­tions which are backed by land and plan­ning laws.

The memo to the ap­prov­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive must be based on gen­uine fact of the case. Oth­er­wise, ap­proval shall be granted based on lies and sen­ti­ments. Usu­ally, most gen­uine re­vo­ca­tions, or en­force­ment ac­tions which cul­prits know is their faults never at­tracts lit­i­ga­tions. Usu­ally, it is the wrong do­ings that do not stand the test of times.

In one of our pre­vi­ous episodes ti­tled: “The Ac­ci­den­tal Pub­lic Servant - Trib­ute”, we dis­cussed the wrong­ful al­lo­ca­tion of Plot 598 A0, which was ear­marked as ed­u­ca­tional plot, and 599 ear­marked as ser­vice cor­ri­dor, as ex­ten­sion to Plot 597 which is a ho­tel. The pre­text for the pro­posal for the 598 al­lo­ca­tion in the pol­icy doc­u­ment was that the bulk of the plot was taken by the ad­join­ing N1 Ar­te­rial road con­struc­tion, which was clearly mis­lead­ing. That de­tail was ob­scure to the con­trol depart­ment which was not privy to the con­tent of the pol­icy doc­u­ment when ap­pli­ca­tion for build­ing plans ap­proval was made. In­stead of green de­vel­op­ment, ap­proval was granted for a ho­tel struc­ture merged with the ex­ist­ing ho­tel on Plot 597. What saved the author­ity from be­ing in­volved in li­bel with claims for dam­ages of up to N6.6bn was the re­fusal of the Author­ity to grant sub­se­quent ap­proval for set­ting out ap­proval.

It could be re­called the min­is­ters sub­mit­ted their hand over notes, one week from the hand­ing over date of May 29, 2015, of the Jonathan-led ad­min­is­tra­tion. There­fore, any ti­tle doc­u­ment which ap­proval for its re­vo­ca­tion was signed by the FCT min­is­ter one week to the hand­ing over by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion, was a prod­uct of fraud. Pre­vi­ously, this col­umn dis­cussed in­ci­dences of ti­tled doc­u­ments pur­port­edly signed within this pe­riod. In some in­stances, the sys­tem is so dirty such that mis­chievous re­tired land of­fi­cers, or chief ex­ec­u­tives could sign fake doc­u­ments, and have it back­dated to have an ad­van­tage in the event of any le­gal con­flict.

The FCT Act vests power in the min­is­ter of the FCT to grant Statu­tory Right of Oc­cu­pancy over land sit­u­ate in the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory. By this law, own­er­ship of land within the FCT is vested un­der the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment of Nige­ria which, through the min­is­ter of FCT, vests same to ev­ery cit­i­zen in­di­vid­u­ally upon ap­pli­ca­tion. All area coun­cil al­lo­ca­tions not based on lay­outs with min­is­te­rial ap­provals are null, void and fraud­u­lent.

Re­cently, there were cases of Dawaki District al­lo­ca­tions, Plots 1081 and 1082 with a pur­ported cus­tom­ary ti­tle from the Bwari Area Coun­cil, but chal­leng­ing al­lo­ca­tions to Plots 1871, 1695 and oth­ers that have min­is­te­rial ti­tles. Be­cause of vested in­ter­est, a rec­om­men­da­tion was made for the re­vo­ca­tion of the min­is­te­rial ti­tles which the im­me­di­ate past min­is­ter was said to have ap­proved on May 25, 2015, a pe­riod be­tween the sub­mis­sion of han­dover note and the hand-over date of May 29, 2015. It could clearly be seen that the date for the ap­proval was in­valid. Such were how the cook­ies crum­ble. The con­tent of this memo which was mis­lead­ing is al­ready in the pub­lic do­main, and it is a source of em­bar­rass­ment to the author­ity.

Fight­ing these types of cor­rupt ten­den­cies is part of the change agenda of the gov­ern­ment. But will it be pos­si­ble to achieve that ob­jec­tive parad­ing cor­rupt of­fi­cials as heads of im­por­tant arms of the ad­min­is­tra­tion?

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