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El-Rufai: 2 Govs, 5 Senators, Ministers Victims

Posted by From Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja on 2005/06/07 | Views: 661 |

El-Rufai: 2 Govs, 5 Senators, Ministers Victims


Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday told a Senate ad hoc committee of the mass land racketeering perpetrated by some officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in which two state governors, a deputy governor, five senators and several ministers have fallen victims.

* Official who owns 300 plots nabbed * 300 others sacked

Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday told a Senate ad hoc committee of the mass land racketeering perpetrated by some officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in which two state governors, a deputy governor, five senators and several ministers have fallen victims.

He also told the Senator Idris Kuta-led committee set up to investigate the demolition exercise carried out by the FCDA in Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja, how an official of the authority was found in possession of 300 plots of land in Abuja. El-Rufai added that about 300 officials have been sacked for their roles in fraudulent land sale transactions.

"These are some of the issues that we have to confront. We have someone who is being tried by the EFCC who has a printing press in Kaduna printing exact copies of our Certificate of Occupancy.

"In fact that man has duped not less than five senators, two governors, one deputy governor and several ministers in the last term. He has sold land to them. They are under the impression that they got this land properly because he gave them Certificate of Occupancy with his name. May be they knew, may be they did not know. It is our job to handle all these situations.

"We have been trying to do so quietly; we don-t mention names; we just try to solve the problems. But here we are, always on trial," el-Rufai said.

According to him, "we have sacked not less than 300 people for land racketeering. We have taken every step to ensure people who have been part of cheating others have lost their jobs. We have dismissed some so that they lose their benefits. Others are still being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

"Just a month ago, the EFCC found someone, a Level 12 official with 132 letters of allocation in various names in his house in the course of our investigation. Just last week, another ex-officer of FCDA was found with 300 plots. And these are just what were found not what he has stolen in the years gone by. So this is the evil that we are confronting all over Abuja and drastic action is necessary. People are still backdating documents in the name of FCDA.

"Even last week, somebody came to my office with drawing, a building plan that he said has been approved and that we were still demolishing his house. I took him to the department of development control, they took one look at the drawing, while it had a stamp of 1998 by a deputy director then in 1998 who was dismissed in 1999 but the drawing was dated 2003," he said.

Describing the exercise which he tagged the "removal of building" as "painful," el-Rufai noted that "there are three Acts of the National Assembly that covers our actions in the FCT. The first is the FCT Act which empowers the FCDA and lay down ground rules for the development of the FCT. That Act sets out two conditions that must be satisfied while building in the FCT otherwise you can be prosecuted."

"You need the Certificate of Occupancy of the land you are building on and you need your approved building plan by the FCDA and no other authority. What the law says again in the Land Use Act 1978, which also covers our operation, is that we must pay compensation to anybody who has the two documents but has his house demolished. We are required by law to pay him monetary compensation for the building and give him alternative plot of land somewhere in the FCT.

"These are the requirements of the Land Use Act. The third piece of legislation is the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Act 1992. We never take down any building until we satisfy ourselves entirely that it breaches the provisions of these three laws.

"In Kubwa alone, we have taken down 178 buildings and none of these people have been successful in court because we have done what we did in compliance with the law. When you go to court, the court will ask you for these three documents before they listen to you. We try to comply with the law.

"We are human and I cannot say we have never made a mistake. But so far we have not been convinced by anyone that we have made a mistake in Kubwa. And we have been doing this for one and half years. No one has come and say you have removed my building wrongly," he said.

He applauded the declaration of pecuniary interests in the matter in accordance to the Senate Standing Rules, and "wished the committee in the lower house that did a similar investigation had given us the same opportunity to cross-check the pecuniary interest of the members in the demolition. But it did not."

"The reason why we have Abuja is because Lagos has become impossible to be the Federal Capital of Nigeria as well as capital of Lagos State. Lagos has become such a grand mess that as far back as 30 years ago the government of Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo realized it and since then the country has spent billions and billions of dollars to make Abuja what it is today.

"What was happening in 2003 was that the city was becoming Lagosified. In many ways, all the bad habits of Lagos were slowly coming into Abuja and that is what we have been trying to do. And in that process, of course we are human we can make mistakes. When mistakes have been made and you want to correct them you inflict pains on the people who deserve the pain and those do not deserve it. The pain must be inflicted so that corrections would be made.

"We have tried to be consultative, we have tried to discuss with the people to show them the logic in all that we are doing. We try to carry people along and show them the alternative ways of living in Abuja. For anybody to think that as minister administering the FCT on behalf of the President, our goal is to be wicked, our goal is to kick out people from their homes, our goal is to make Abuja impossible for the poor, is being unfair and to be quite candid, irresponsible.

"Governance is not about making people suffer because we are a democratic government. When I came into office I discovered that our land records were messed up, there were cases of double allocation. The same plot of land was given to more than two people. The first priority was to computerise the land register.

"For that reason, we stopped all land allocation. I was the first minister of the FCT that spent two years in office without making land allocation because I wanted to clean up the record. We don-t just wake up in the morning and say this building should be removed. We follow a process.

"In the area of land racketeering, many innocent Nigerians have lost billions of naira to Abuja land racketeers. These racketeers include people outside as well as a large number of people within the FCT system," he said.

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Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

ULIMASI means' GOD,THANK YOU' not THANK GOD.

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Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...

The name ULIMASI is from the UTUGWANG tribe in OBUDU local government area of CROSS RIVER STATE in Nigeria.

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding