Investigation

Caging the Omo onile monster in Abuja

  •  Unauthorised persons encroaching on our land – NUT Municipal, Abuja
  •  I have no issues with NUT, my land is separate from theirs, says Yusuf
  •  ‘Faceless people petitioned against me in a matter that doesn’t concern me’

 

All over Nigeria, land is held in high regard in both rural and urban communities. Apart from the traditional importance attached to it, its availability plays a pivotal role, especially to individuals and corporate organisations as it is a means of providing shelter as well as increasing investment inflow. Because of these, teachers in the federal capital city formed a thrift union to help raise money to build a befitting housing estate for its members. Today, that venture is troubled. Who are the parties in this squabble? What is the issue at stake? Isioma Madike, who spoke to all the parties, brings you the story behind the land in dispute.

 

The Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) Municipal branch Chairman, Chief Umar Makusidi, is troubled, not necessarily because of personal issues but because of his Union’s planned Housing Estate, Wupe branch, Brazil, Lugbe 1 Extension, Abuja.

Makusidi told our reporter that the Union bought a plot of land that covers about 75 hectares between 2012 and 2013 to embark on a housing project which its members could not only call theirs but retired to after service as house is a major issue in Abuja. It was supposed to be the first of its kind in the Federal Capital Territory. It was to be built in phases.

Everything, he said, was going on well as they successfully completed phases 1, 2 and 3. The fourth phase, according to him, is billed to start early next year. That plan is currently being threatened as unknown persons started encroaching on it, making it difficult for the Union’s developers to continue with construction. Makusidi said: “We have processed our title documents in all the necessary FCT Land developments.

We have also compensated the indigenes to a large extent. We were trying to source more money for compensations of the remaining indigenes and clearing before some people, not known to us, came with caterpillars and thugs with different kinds of weapons to intimidate and encroach on up to 10 hectres of our Land.

“And because we are law-abiding citizens, who would not take laws into our hands, we had to write a petition against them to necessary authorities for quick intervention. We equally want to use this medium to call for relevant authorities both in government and in non-government organisation to come to our aid for the sake of our peace-loving teachers against these elements who are known as land grabbers, which Lagosians call Omo onile, from rearing its ugly head in the FCT.

The Union’s treasurer, Comrade Goje Gupada, JP, said that the plots of land covered about 108 hectares initially from individual land vendors but was later reduced to the present 75 hectares as a result of re-designing of the layout by the FCTA Land Department. The purpose of the project is to enable teachers to own their houses to reduce accommodation challenges. The Land/ Housing project was named NUT MUNICIPAL BRANCH TEACHERS ESTATE, Abuja, FCT.

It was designed to be a model as it is the first of its kind in Abuja. “We cleared the entire land 10 years ago. The Union has allocated these plots of land to the beneficiaries.

Development of houses began seven years ago. We were trying to source more money for compensation of indigenes and clearing of the remaining plots of land before these people and their associates came up with caterpillars and thugs with different kinds of weapons to intimidate and encroach on up to 10 hectares of part of the Land.

We have made frantic efforts to meet with them and to stop them, but our efforts have not yielded any positive results. “But because teachers are peaceful and law-abiding citizens, they took legal actions against the ugly development by writing complaints to the necessary and relevant authorities for intervention.

Thus, the Union has written petitions against them and their group to some necessary authorities for quick intervention. These authorities include the office of the IGP, ICPC, FCT Police Command, DSS Department, FCT Hon. Minister, and Hon. Minister of State, FCT for intervention,” he said.

Arc. Abdul Hakeem Hussein, MD, First Global Hakitekt Ltd, which is the Major Develo p e r of the h o u s – ing estate, has also conf i r m e d that the e s t a t e development was planned in phases.

“We have w o r k e d on phases 1,2,3 and the last phase that we planned to enter at the beginning of next year is where the land grabbers encroached.

“They paid some money to the village head and started clearing about 10 hectares out of our land. We challenged them to stop and ask if they had any documents or authority for their actions on our land, but they never listened to us. We invited a police team to stop them but they brought a large number of hoodlums in hundreds with weapons to counter the police team.

The police team then advised us to write to their higher authorities, which we did as a petition. The IGP, CP in charge FCT, ICPC, FCDA and the Director, Development Control, all were copied. The acknowledgement copies of the letters, some of the Allocation Letters of the land in hectares from an appropriate authority, other necessary documents like photographs of the work we have done/doing on the site are hereby attached.”

However, one of those at the centre of the controversy, Muhammed-Deen Yusuf, who described himself as a businessman, who buys land to sell, in his reaction has put a lie to all the allegations against him and others. He said: “Six years ago there was an organisation called National Galaxy (this issue involves five of us), not the NUT, I don’t have an issue with the NUT as they are alleging.

NUT land is about 80 hectares, and mine is about six hectares, just two plot numbers. They aren’t even close; there are two estates between mine and that of the NUT. Theirs is about 70 to almost 80 hectares, about 19 plots while mine is just about six hectares (2 plot numbers).

“I never knew NUT, and had nothing to do with their land, as I have a C of O on my plot, with a regularisation from the MCD, and the plot is even an AMAC plot. But I had to also do a regularisation with FCD (for ages) and that was done in 2015. I have had the C of O for that plot since the year 2003. NUT just has an offer that they have not even processed, and the plot number is different from the one I have.

“They just came up and I had the police send an invitation to them from the office of the DIG and after three invitations, they did not attend any. Then all of a sudden I hear there is a petition against me in the Monitoring Unit from the office of the IG, and I went to attend and they brought those cases, and I said look, their plot number is entirely different from my own plot number, and some other three people were there.

“I requested that the police are called in to bring their data so I can bring my data and we can move to the site to see if we are even talking about the same portion of land because I am having two estates between me and NUT. The police did not come, their own police that had invited me. I was not supposed to be there as I already had a case established with other police officers, but I went there regardless and they followed me and saw everything.

Then I came back to them and submitted the document and it is still under investigation and they have kept me waiting. “It’s a different plot number. A

 

nother barrister came and said everyone should submit their layout so that they will see if we are talking about the same land or people are just making mistakes. I even have a C of O before they even started processing their own documents. Before I looked for a partner, the person confirmed all of these documents. I submitted the document to the police, before the office of the IG of Police. “Last week they said we should come for an interview only two people attended. They didn’t attend where they took me to.

They didn’t even come and the police were waiting. They said they went somewhere else and they are the ones making noise about it. They have to wait for an investigation and for them to confirm that the documents are genuine and to see whether the portion is for me or for them.

“We are even four now because another person came out. I have three people in the DIG office, someone again, a fresh person who brought police to the land recently. He came with police but luckily the police that were investigating the case were on the site and they met them. They now decided that they should merge the investigation so they should bring the file to the DIG office. Let them be patient. Land is all about documents. If it is not for me, I will quietly tell them sorry and move on. I don’t fight for land.

“If I know them, I will tell them that maybe we have different plot numbers so let us wait for the surveyor to go and see whose fault it is. We don’t compete for land in our village and talk more about the city. Let them come and I will ask for one or two weeks so that the police will do their proper investigation and we will use independent surveyors. Let us be sure if the land is for me or for them.”

When asked for the documents he has for citing, he responded by saying that the police are investigating and it won’t be proper for him to release them to the reporter. “It’s only when I’m going to court that the documents will be made public. Now, I have not seen them.

If you were in Abuja I would have asked the police to show you. They never came to the land, they just petitioned me. I and the National DIG have been talking about this plot for over six years now and they were not in this picture. The National DIG was trying to put a foundation when I came and stopped them. My late brother was equally involved before his death.

“When other people come, all of us will get tired. They have refused to come to the police station. They went to the commissioner of police and they all attended to them. I called someone and told them that this is not how they do  e. Another, whose company was petitioned, pleaded not to be mentioned because “I was never a party ab initio.” He told this reporter that he was not contesting for land in the area being disputed and wondered why his name and that of his company were constantly being mentioned in their petition to the police.

“When I got to the police, I demanded to know who petitioned against me but the police did not mention any name. Nobody appeared to claim he wrote the petition. They asked me to just write a statement which I did. “It’s my friend who has a land in that area they are disputing even though his is very far from that of the NUT.

My friend, I like the way you practice your own journalism, trying to hear from everyone, not like those who will just jump into conclusion and rush to publish. If you know them, please ask them the foundation of their land, I mean who did they buy their land from.

This is very necessary so as to even establish the genuineness of the plots of land they are contesting. I think it’s fair to start from there,” he added. However, a source from the IGP Monitoring Unit, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this reporter that the police investigation team on December 7, invited all the parties for interrogation.

“Two of them, who the petition is against, answered the call of IGP Monitoring Unit in charge of the petition and visited Force Headquarters. However, both of them denied involvement in the land grabbing issues and backed it up by written statements.

“Yusuf and Mshel Homes also honoured the Police IGP Monitoring Unit but on their own they claimed ownership of the portion of land at the centre part of NUT entire land. They dropped some copies of the landed documents which included Area Council C of O, offer letters and so on. We are still continuing and hope to find a lasting solution to the crisis soon,” the source added.

 

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