By Festus Fifen
The FCT Administration on Thursday Destroyed Illegal settlements and makeshift Structures along a major road corridor in the Kado and Jahi Districts of Abuja.
Security Operatives with the FCT Enforcement Team also arrested two suspected land grabbers, Yusuf Garba Ibrahim alias Baba Khalifa and Pastor Prophet Emmanuel Ayisa, for allegedly masterminding illegal sale and extortion of money from unsuspecting victims of the ongoing demolition of illegal structures and settlements around Kado and Jahi Districts of Abuja.
Speaking to Journalists during the demolition exercise and also reacting to victims of the land fraud, Director Development Control Mukhtar Galadima again used the medium to caution FCT residents and investors coming into the Nation’s Capital to desist from patronising local land speculators who are out to defraud the public.
In his words, ” : “I’m not surprised, because these are the antics of criminals, but we have warned the residents and other citizens about this kind of unfortunate situation, that they should beware, as every land in Abuja is properly planned for something. Don’t buy land from local chiefs, you have to go to appropriate authority, and you have to conduct due diligence search. So it is unfortunate, that these are victims of circumstances.
“They should know that the authorities will not give them compensation for their loss. Whatever way you look at it, it is illegal, and that’s why we are removing it.
“This is an action that has been ongoing as it is a continuous process of cleaning and sanitizing the city. This place looks like a criminal den, because, we saw a lot of characters. So as part of our activities, we are clearing it to make sure that we sanitize the place, and after the exercise, we are going to have a discussion with the residents of this area. Even though it is a proposed road corridor, we have to use it properly before the road comes.”
On his part Secretary Command and Control FCTA, Peter Olumuji, said based on the intelligence from task team consisting of different security agencies, that some persons had asked owners and occupants of illegal structures to contribute money to escape removal exercise, they (suspects) were identified, and arrest was made.
Olumuji disclosed that the Commissioner of Police FCT Command, has directed that thorough investigation be carried out, and if they are found wanting they should be prosecuted accordingly.
He added the ” prosecution will serve as lesson and deterrence to those who are still involved in defrauding people who are victims of this removal (demolition exercise) in the area. This is something the FCT Administration will never tolerate.”
He however, noted that some of the security concerns in the area range from illicit drugs dealing, child rape, and armed robbery amongst other vices. The place serves as good cover for those who rob in Gwarinpa and Mabushi, so we have been able to unplug such acts of criminality within the place
Refuting the allegations, one of the suspects, Ibrahim alias Baba Khalifa, said he didn’t collect any money from anybody for the purpose of enriching himself, but rather the monies were given to the Ggbagy people that own the cashew planation in the area.
He said: “the land that I sold to them to build, the money collected was to pay compensation to Gwari people for the place they built.”
When asked if he was serving as an agent to Gbagy people, he said: “Yes, they are the ones that own this place and the cashew belongs to them , even me I just joined them recently. So they are paying the money to them for cashews (economy trees), not for any other issue.
“Let one of them come and tell me how much they resold the land for a room and parlour that we gave to them at N30,000. They have benefited, as all of us have managed our lives in this community for the past five years, so why will I now say that they (government shouldn’t come and demolish, it is not going to be possible, as I only got involved with Gawri people, collecting the money and be giving to them for compensation of their cashew planation.
“But, the collection of the purported N10,000, yestetday morning, I didn’t collect anything from anybody.”
Pastor Ayisa, one of the arrested kigpin who was allegedly fronting for FCTA in the area also denied that he didn’t collect money to go and bribe FCT officials.
” After the demolition team left here. Me and chairman with Baba Khalifa together held a meeting that we should have money to move ahead to see if we can get favour from there (FCT Development control). And when I went to the office, they directed me to Mr Hassan, and he told me the truth – to remove our property. But, the money that we gathered was to buy fuel to do any other thing we need to do, and not to bribe.
“My own purpose of going to FCT Development Control is to get a time to pack my load away and remove the church from here.”
However, some of the victims, who spoke with newsmen at the site, said they had bought plots from the Baba Khalifa, even though they were informed that the place was reserved as railway corridor, as there is agreement between the government and indigenous people they people can stay up to 10 years before the rail construction will get there.
A victim, Florence Emedo, decried that they were not given any notice of the demolition, and even when they were trying to pack their belongings, the suspects asked them to calm, as they were going to contribute N10,000 each and give them to go to the FCTA office to seek intervention, to halt the exercise.
She recalled that around July two years ago, somebody took her there claiming there is a land which they need developers to invest in, which she opted in, and bought a plot, even though she was informed that the place is earmarked for railway, but they can stay up to 10 years.
“They sold the land initially for N75,000, and I felt this place is nice if we can stay up to ten years. And they assured that it is under Zaki of Kado and other two chiefs, who are in charge of the place , which is why they called the place Angwan Zaki.
“So I came with my friends to invest where we can stay for awhile, which they assured us that nothing will happen, that FCTA is aware of it, and Baba Khalifa said he has an insider in the FCTA, that keeps informing them about any development, so from time to time, we will just contribute money to give them, and nothing will happen.
” So we contributed money hoping that even though they were going to demolish, but they will give us time. But, they just came around 9am to inform us that they are coming by 10am, and we immediately tried to pick the little things we can take.
“We started building January of last year, and they didn’t tell us anything about demolition, and I kept asking, and they say nothing of such.
Another victim, Owadia Valentina, who claimed to had bought a plot early last year, said some of them bought land for N450,000; N250.000 and N100.000 plus from a victim with Baba Khalifa’s signature.
” Even though I wasn’t done building, I moved in last year’s October, and I just painted two months ago, and he still assured us that there is an agreement on the land , and till today we haven’t seen the agreement, and each time we tried to reach them, it will be one story or another or will not even meet them.
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