· Allege flagrant abuse of due process
· Demands end to exercise
· Wants stakeholders’ engagement
· No witch hunt over exercise – FCTA
By Sarah NEGEDU & Laraba MUREY
The indigenous peoples of Kuchibedna community in Gwarinpa District of Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, are accusing the FCT Administration of highhandedness in the recent demolition exercise carried out in the community.
The community head of Galadima/ Gwarinpa 2, Chief Habakkuk Gozhewo, who superintends over Kuchibedna community, claimed that due diligence was not followed in the recent demolition of structures in the area.
The administration has been on a demolition spree in what it said was to save the city from becoming an urban slum and keeping with the Abuja master plan.
Chief Gozhewo alleged that no proper notice was given before the demolition which affected several structures belonging to original inhabitants of the area.
The FCT Administration had, last Thursday, demolished over a hundred structures in Kuchibedna community for allegedly encroaching on right of way of a major road infrastructure.
Most of the affected structures were worship centres, brothels, makeshift open market, residential buildings, viewing centres and shanties, purportedly serving as criminal hideouts in the community.
However, reacting to the development, Gozhewo described the exercise as very sad as residents were taken by surprise.
“This a very sad incident because we were not informed and no notice was given to us before the demolition and most of the houses demolished belong to indigenes and lots of economic trees were also removed. Nobody is aware of this exercise they just came in like that and started the demolition.”
He insisted that the demolition markings earlier inscribed by the Development Control Department was only done on makeshift houses and ‘batchers’ and not on proper buildings.
“The fact is that some of the houses demolished belong to indigenes and so we can’t say they are illegal buildings because this is an indigenous community. This is where we were born and where we make a living from.”
The chief appealed to the FCT Administration to suspend the demolition exercise to give room for further engagement with the people as it has affected almost everybody in the community.
Explaining the rationale behind the exercise, chairman of the FCT Ministerial Task Team on City Sanitation, Comrade Ikharo Attah, noted that the residents were duly notified by the Department of Development Control, as everywhere was fully marked over a month ago and demolition exercise was only carried out after the expiration of the one-month demolition notice.
Attah said while most of the affected structures stood on the right of way for a major Ring Road infrastructure in the district, some others served as hideouts for criminals terrorising the community and environs.
According to him, “The Ring Road 3, which is heavily built upon, and sadly people bought land there, and we felt it was time to come and remove all the encumbrances on the road, which we had warned and given them adequate notice.
“We are taking our road alignment back, otherwise it will be very bad in the future when we want to build the road.”
“It happens also that the place poses to be a very dangerous den along this indigenous community. So we are removing the whole illegalities on this road, and if we can’t finish it today, we will come back.”
Similarly, Muazu Lawan, who identified himself as secretary of traders in the market, admitted that the FCTA officials had last month carried out marking exercise in the community, but failed to send reminders to residents as usually practice.
“The land where the market was built is not for government as it belongs to the indigenes, who are our landlords.”
Meanwhile, indigenous people of Kubwa have urged to the FCT administration to halt the demolition exercise in the area following the recent fire outbreak that claimed several lives at Kubwa market, recently.
Bwari area council secretary, Mr. Ella Kadanya, who led some community heads of Kubwa village to a meeting with leadership of the FCT Ministerial Task Team on City Sanitation, asked that more time be given the indigenes to identify and correct grey areas that are not in line with the administration’s template.
One of the stakeholders and former chairman Bwari area council, Mr. Musa Dikko, asked that the natives should be properly carried along during demolition exercises.
He disclosed that the indigenous people presently in Kukwaba, Jaji and Kubwa were relocated to the area in 1990, when there was no population explosion but the increase in population call for additional plans for expansion.
Responding, Chairman of the Task Team, Attah, told the natives that clearing the area of illegal structures was not meant to hurt the residents but to bring about sanity that will help in averting disaster.