By Salim Yunusa
There was tension in some parts of Abuja on Wednesday as residents ran helter-skelter to salvage what they could when officials of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) demolished over 473 illegal structures at Iddo Sarki community.
The FCTA pulled down no fewer than 137 illegal structures, ranging from blocks of hostels, hotels and others at the weekend.
With renewed energy, an apparently strengthened, well-fortified enforcement team, comprising the Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Police Force, DSS, NSCDC, NDLEA, Nigeria Immigration Service and DRTS, working with five bulldozers, levelled 473 illegal buildings in a day.
Chairman, FCT Ministerial Committee on City Sanitation, Ikharo Attah, told reporters his team had to go back to Iddo to complete the work it started in the community.
According to him, leaving the demolition exercise halfway, uncompleted would only encourage reemergence of illegal structures and perpetuation of illegality, which would further deteriorate the abuses of the Abuja Master Plan.
Calling on developers and FCT residents to desist from buying parcels of land from traditional Chiefs in the nation’s capital, Attah affirmed only the FCT Minister (not even FCT Minister of State) was legally empowered to allocate any portion of the FCT’s 8,000 square kilometers of land.
Attah explained: “Why we came back here was because we did not finish the clean-up. We thought we had fine very far, not until we noticed that the Land Use Contraventions have been very high and disturbing.
“So we had to come back here to continue the cleanup. Thanks directors of Development Control and Security who out heads together for us to get four to five machines. Some of the illegalities of land contravention include buying land from local Chiefs, building without building plan approvals, building substandard structures and the authorities will not allow these to continue because the city is planned and when we see contravention, it is the mandate of the FCTA to take it out,” he said..
Asked whether there was any compensation for them, Attah said: “They have been warned before and when you commit illegality…..we even ought to take them to court but we are leaving them. The Chiefs who gave them the land have denied that they gave them land”.
Attah also sent a warning to owners of illegal structures within Mpape, Dutse Makaranta, Ushafa and areas to either move out or comply, adding they were next in line for similar clean up exercises.
He said: “We have to rush this work now because the people of Mpape, Dutse Makaranta and Ushafa -both the residents and landlords are begging the FCT Minister to come and clean up their area, so we will soon be going to assist them. We are seeing encroachments even in the Lower Usuma Dam where we get our safe water to drink. We don’t want people to go there and pollute our water.”