Demolitions: FCTA, non-indigenes disagree
Despite the general uproar that has continued to greet recent demolitions of structures at the Utako village and in other parts of Abuja, the FCT Administration insists that the exercise was carried out in the interest of residents of the area.
The FCT Department of Development Control was Utako village, last week, where unapproved structures owned by settlers were removed, leaving those belonging to original inhabitants of the community.
Speaking of her ordeal, Grace Nyankemg, who owns a chemist shop that was demolished, pegged her goods at about N10milion, claiming that her shop was the biggest chemist within the community and has been saving the lives of residents for the past 5years.
Nyankemg alleged that no notice was served on her or others that she just came and saw that her shop was being demolished and wondered how a well-defined structure built to ‘standard’ would pass for a shanty.
Also, one Madam Joy, who was seen along the roadside with her property and four children, said unfortunately they have found themselves in that condition because if they had resources they would have opted for houses in a better location but for the difficulty of surviving within a harsh economy, “there is no money to get a better place that is why we settled for the village.”
They both, as others, strongly condemned the demolitions, accusing the FCTA of favouring the natives without proper eviction notice served on the non-indigenes.
The Head of Information unit of the department, Larry Afu, however disagreed with the claim, stressing that the visitors were given four notices at separate times, to allow them move before the demolition exercise.
Afu told The Abuja Inquirer that the area was marked since 2018 with notices served them, before a final meeting with community heads and youth leaders in August 2020.
In his words, “We cannot be accused of hastily moving into Utako village because we have served them four notices since last year and had meetings with their community leader and youth leaders before we finally went in for demolition.
“There have been so many illegalities and infractions going on there. That land you see is supposed to accommodate a fire service station and the Utako General Hospital but these people kept encroaching and raising shanties. They population growth there is rapid and we see a lot of crimes there. Hopefully the demolition will return order to that area too.”
Officers from the FCT Department of Development Control, met stiff resistance when their bulldozers went into the community to remove marked buildings as occupants of the illegal structures hurled stones at machine and personnel before police reinforcement.
Asked why the selective demolition, Director, Department of Development Control, Mr. Muktar Galadima, who led the exercise explained that houses belonging to Abuja natives were not touched because their compensation was yet to be completely completed and resettled.
“We have a very good understanding with the natives who are working with us in identifying houses that are illegal and non-indigenous structures batchers and shanties which constitute security challenges and environmental nuisance.”
Chairman, Task Team on City Sanitation, Comrade Ikharo Attah while reiterating the position of the director said: “Houses that are going are houses of those who bought land from local chiefs, while the ones left are houses of the original inhabitants who have not been resettled."
Speaking on behalf of the natives, Danmasani of Utako, Chief Danjuma Daniel, stated that the natives were in full support of the exercise because they were carried along.
Danjuma, while expressing gratitude to the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, for working with them through the department to dislodge the illegal settlers displayed a demolition notice earlier given the them by the authorities.
Chief Security Office to the FCT Minister, SP Rasheed Hamed, who was also part of the exercise, disclosed that over 90percent of crimes committed in Utako district were caused by hoodlums from the village.