By Stanley Onyekwere
Worried by the seeming unending distortion of building regulations despite reinvigorated demolition of illegal structures, the FCT Administration has revealed plans to enforce massive arrests of those violating Abuja Masterplan.
Director, Department of Development Control, Mukhtar Galadima, dropped the hint yesterday, during a cleanup exercise in Abuja.
Galadima, who spoke after a series of enforcement in locations such as Asokoro and Maitama, Galadima revealed plans by the Administration to sustain the cleanup exercise until all the dark spots in the territory are cleared.
He noted that the administration will pay more attention to “All those dark spots that we believe constitute security threats as well as constitute hygienic problems.
According to him: “The cleanup is a continuous exercise because you will agree with me that there’s a lot of negativity associated with the FCT, in particular Abuja. So, now we want to clear that impression. We want to sanitise the city, we want to clean the city to make it a capital city of our dream?
“Then, generally, we’ll come back to the issue of monthly sanitation. For now, we’ve been to Kabusa junction, we’ve been to Galadimawa runabout, Suncity, and Ring road II corridor.
“So, we’re going all around the city. Definitely, we’ll go back to Ruga, and then this time around, when we go back, once we clear, we will arrest those violating the Abuja Masterplan.”
Earlier, the enforcement team had stormed a highbrow area of Asokoro, to demolish a building that was purportedly constructed in violation of approval issued for the building, but for the timely intervention by the owners who presented a court judgement barring the FCTA from removing the structure.
Reacting to the court judgement presented to the enforcement team, Galadima, explained that though the owners had been given adequate notice, but the Department would consult the Legal Secretariat for appropriate guidance on the next line of action.
He noted that aside from building in contravention with the approval given, the structure had been abandoned for a long time and was now used as safe haven for criminals, which the administration strongly frowned against.
“The building is an abandoned building harbouring criminals. You’ll recall that towards the end of the last administration, the former minister was there because of the same reason. So, we served them notice for removal.
“That’s why recently, the new minister has also embarked on dealing with abandoned structures. So that’s why we moved in to remove that structure, so as to give way but then as you noticed, while the operation was going on, the owners of the property came up with a court judgement indicating that the FCT administration should not temper with that particular property.
“By the time you go around that particular building, you will see a lot of markings. This means that there was adequate notice to the owners of the structure.
“As responsible citizens, I have to stop the action and consult with the Legal Secretariat of the FCT about the court judgement, to know if there was any appeal made. Then, I would be adequately informed and would also be advised on the next letter of action.
However, when asked about the approval the owner of the building claims to have, Galadima said, the it’s not true that approval was given.
“What was approved, if you look at that area, it is purely a low density residential area and predominantly the development there is low density residential development. Mostly, duplexes with one suspended floor or two suspended floors.
“But the structure in question is a massive structure of luxury apartments, which may end up to be a hotel. So, there was no approval to that effect. I’ve gone through all the files, even though it was granted approval for duplex, but they didn’t build it in line with what was approved for them.
“Also, I noticed in the file that when our officers went to enforce at the early stage of the development, they were ridiculed. They were chased out of the site. So, what the woman was saying was just out of context, maybe out of frustration.
“In FCT administration, developments are guided by the provisions of the law and the Abuja masterplan, which is the Bucha master plan. If we say that we’ve not approved your development and you go ahead and build it, and you are even contesting, once they say go ahead, we’ll go ahead”, Galadima stated.