Officials of the Department of Development Control (DDC), of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), yesterday revisited and demolished illegal structures at Lungu village, in Kafe District, amid wide outrage and despair.
Accompanied by a strong joint team of security personnel, DDC officials stormed the village, located near Gwarinpa estate, just few metres away from the Kubwa/ Zuba express way, with a bulldozer and descended heavily on structures belonging to non-indigenes including some bearing the inscription ‘Gbagyi house’ in the site.
They dismantled buildings worth millions of naira, purportedly developed by people who had encroached on a plot allocated to an undisclosed developer, including roadside kiosks and other structures being used for business activities, in the area.
This is coming on the heels of heated public outcry that greeted the initial attempt by the DDC to demolish the structures in the area, in order to hand over the encroached plot to Holyfield Estate Developers, who legitimately own the land, having obtained all necessary documentations.
It would be recalled that the inconclusive exercise embarked in the village, had sparked off violent protests, leading to a blockade of the ever-busy Zuba/Kubwa/Abuja City Express road, resulting in damage of public facilities. The incident followed a wide spread rumour of the death of mother and her child during the exercise in the area.
But following the return of the DDC officials to complete the exercise in the area, some residents have expressed shock and anguish over the destruction of their structures in the site, saying they were caught unaware by the action.
While some of the affected persons complained that they were not given notice before the demolition, others made a passionate appeal to the government for provision of an alternative land, to enable them to resettle their families.
But it was gathered that in a bid to find a more peaceful way of carrying out the exercise in the area, Members of the management of FCTA visited the area on Sunday, to engage the people, and as part of the discussions they had with the people DDC officials resumed the exercise.
One of the affected persons, Saint Iloegbunam, an applicant, who spoke to Peoples Daily, decried that many of them lost everything in the process and as they were caught unaware by the exercise.
He said the house he was living in was demolished, and the document of his confiscated Tricycle otherwise known as Keke NAPEP was destroyed in the process, as it was inside when the structure was pulled down.
“I was doing my transportation business as a Keke operator but unfortunately on April 30, the keke was confiscated when I was arrested by the officials of Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO). In this country, once you are poor, the rich don’t want you near them.
“Because if it is not so, at least they could have done something different concerning this exercise, but they are not after helping us to survive even in our mother land.
Asked how he was going to cope with the current situation he has found himself, he said: I don’t know, because my house is being demolished; I don’t have a job and my Keke document was destroyed in the process, as it was inside when it was pulled down.
“Actually, government is not helping the matter, as for me they seem to always derive pleasure whenever the poor masses are been oppressed; this is because they derive pleasure from their suffering, that’s the simple truth.
“But I’m pleading with the FCT minister to kindly release some of those Keke ( over 200 of them) his men impounded, especially some of us who are affected in the demolition, as we have been living with no job and there is nothing to do, and now no house,” he pleads.
Similarly, another victim, Beatrice Celestine, who spoke in Pidgin English narrates her ordeal:“ I no dey see well with my eyes, and my children come open shop for me, where I dey do business-selling provision, but now they don demolished am, and I don’t have anything now to do.
“Na from this small things wey we dey do in this place, na him we dey take pay our children school fees, because some of us dey train our children for school, so make them become somebody tomorrow.
“And I don’t know where I go keep my property, because anywhere we go now they dey call big money, and no get money to pay rent, and some of my goods dey for open place and rain dey beat am, so we need help.
“Make God touch this our Nigerian people to help us, so that we wey poor make we see something dey do to train our own children.”
On his part, the Chief of Lungu, Ezekiel Sanya Zakka, confirmed that prior to the resumption of the demolition exercise, they and FCTA officials held a meeting with their member in the House of Representatives and Chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC)
“It is true that we held meeting with and Director and deputy Director of Development Control and other FCTA officials, with our member in the House of Representatives and AMAC chairman in attendance, where we agreed that it’s only non-indigenes houses that will be demolished, but that we should indicate by removing zincs of those belonging to indigenes, which we did.
“As at yesterday’s evening (Monday), when I spoke with the director, he assured us that they (Development control officials) would just come to do their work and go, so that there won’t tension as it happened during their previous attempt to carry out the exercise in the area.
“But it is unfortunate now that they are not followed up with what we agreed, as they are demolishing our (indigenes) houses.
He continues: “Let the government tamper justice with mercy; we were here before FCTA, and we don’t have anywhere to go; farm lands are been taken from us, and we are managing with our homes, so if they are now demolishing our houses where can we go to?
“And now even the untouched houses where some of us are living in are on the path of a major road, and they are saying that there is no more resettlement for the inhabitants, then where are they pushing us to? They should look into these issues, to see how they can consider us.
On the allegation that the indigenes go about collecting money from others, for the purpose of attaching Gbagyi house inscription on their houses, in order to shield them from being pulled down during the exercise, the chief said even though he is saying the truth they (officials) will not believe it, because already the government think that we (the Gbagyi people) are not trustworthy.
“But we are actually trustworthy, and what they are saying is a lie; it is just that they have done their worst in the area.”
However, the DDC’ Public Relations Officer (PRO), Kalu Emetu, said the exercise was as a result of a court decision on the said plot, as the owner had earlier gone to court, and sought for an order for the Department of Development control to remove the encumbrances on the plot.
According to him, the position of the administration is that in a situation where people had encroached on an existing layout, the development control department is expected to remove such encroachment.
“It was as a result of the said court decision that our people had to move in immediately to remove the structures on the plot, which some miscreants decided to alleged that department during the earlier operation in the area, killed a baby, and as a result her mother had to committed suicide.
“And we had to clear the air, and it was in the process that we had to suspend the removal exercise; but by now we feel the air had been cleared, and Nigerians have been made to understand that nobody was killed in the area.