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Demolition: Senate panel indicts el-Rufai

Posted by Sam Akpe and Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja on 2005/08/18 | Views: 490 |

Demolition: Senate panel indicts el-Rufai


The Senate was on Wednesday told that the revocation of titles and demolition of houses in the Federal Capital Territory did not follow the procedure outlined in the Urban and Regional Planning Act of 1992.

The Senate was on Wednesday told that the revocation of titles and demolition of houses in the Federal Capital Territory did not follow the procedure outlined in the Urban and Regional Planning Act of 1992.

Chairman of the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee investigating demolition of houses in the FCT, Senator Idris Kuta, said although the exercise was meant to serve a useful purpose, it was wrongly pursued.

Kuta also told the Senate that the FCT Minister, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, lied on oath while giving evidence before the committee on the payment of compensation to the owner of a demolished hospital.

He said the minister had told the committee that he never approved payment to Dr. Frank Fashina, whose hospital was demolished only for the FCT’s Director of Finance, Mr. Silva Ameh, to appear with documents indicating that the minister endorsed the payment.

The committee, in a report submitted by Kuta, said the law allowed the FCDA to issue notice of revocation of title or demolition of structure and serve it on the developer of the structure.

Under the law, dissatisfied developer has 28 days to file an appeal with the Land Appeal Tribunal, which determines whether or not the revocation is valid.

He said, "From the above, it is glaring that the FCDA did not allow affected persons whose houses were demolished to make representation to the Land Appeal Tribunal before it embarked on demolition exercise.

"Demolition exercise was embarked upon by the FCDA in the FCT in August 2003. As at this time, there was no Land Appeal Tribunal and even if there was, they had no offices or chambers to operate from.

"Moreover, owners of demolished houses on Accra Street received letters of demolishing notice in March 2004 when their houses had already been demolished in August 2003. This shows lack of coordination between the different departments of the Federal Capital Development Authority.

The committee recommended that some of the structures not in line with the "Land Use per Maste- Plan" should be integrated into the Abuja Master-Plan.

The committee also recommended that government should compensate the victims of demolition who had genuine allocation papers.

It said among the 221 buildings in Kubwa that were approved by the Federal Executive Council not to be demolished, owners of those demolished should be compensated by the Federal Capital Development Authority.

It was also recommended that a Land Appeal Tribunal must be appointed at all times and office accommodation provided so that those whose properties were demolished could file their complaints and seek redress.

The committee said the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy by Abuja Municipal Area Council valid for 50 years and FCDA valid for 99 years should be centralised.

It was the position of the committee that Abuja Master Plan "must be fully protected at all times if Abuja is to remain a capital that we want it to be."

The committee stated further that the Master-Plan could be periodically reviewed and the Minister of the FCT must approve any amendments or modifications.

It continued that any FCDA and FCT officials in illegal land deals should be sanctioned and that such sanctions should include dismissal and prosecution.

It said the prototype Type 11 cost N6 million; the prototype Type 111 cost N8 million.

The committee said it found out that Corner Shops in Wuse Zone 4 were rented for N800, 000 per annum and sold for N10 million.

Based on these, it said most of the owners of such Corner Shops must have recovered their money by now; "we would therefore not recommend for compensation."

It said however that those with 25 years and limitless tenure, having genuine particulars should be compensated as they were helping government by investing their money since the government has shirked on its responsibilities.

It was the position of the committee that Abuja Master Plan "must be fully protected at all times if Abuja is to remain a capital that we want it to be."

Members stated further that the Master Plan could be periodically reviewed and the Minister of the FCT must approve any amendments or modifications.

It continued that any FCDA and FCT officials in illegal land deals should be sanctioned and that such sanctions should include dismissal and prosecution.

On Arewa Hospital, the committee quoted the minister as denying that he approved any payment for the demolition of the properties and instead accused the staff of conniving with Fashina to effect the payment.

It said: "Also it was observed that Dr. Fashina of Arewa Hospital was underpaid and not over paid by the Hounourable Minister of the FCT.

"FCDA agreed to pay N55, 804, 000 0n Dr. Fashina's hospital. It only paid N14.5 million which the minister claimed was not approved by him.

"However, with Mr. Silva Ameh's (former director, Finance and Supplies) submission, it was discovered that the Hon. Minister approved the amount paid to Dr. Fashina.

"He (Ameh) tendered photocopiesn of documents containing the minister's approval on four different occasions before effecting payment to Dr. Fashina and thanked the committee for granting him the opportunity to defend himself.

"The committee observed that the FCT minister actually approved the payment of N14.5 million to Dr. Fashina." The report was not debated by the Senate.

The PUNCH, Thursday, August 18, 2005

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