The FCT change agenda amidst crafty bureaucrats
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?