Senator Bala Mohammed
Ike Abonyi in Abuja
Security threats posed by the Mpape shanties in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), far more than the official reason of distortion of the Abuja master plan, informed the planned demolition of the shack settlement, THISDAY has learnt.
The FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, had said the demotion, scheduled to begin August 31, would go on, despite public outcry, because the shantytown deformed the Abuja master plan. The authorities on July 26 gave residents of the area the ultimatum to leave.
But THISDAY gathered that Mpape, going by intelligence information, had become the home of illegal immigrants and a big security threat to the nation’s capital. Reliable intelligence sources said about 158 suspected terrorists, most of them illegal immigrants, were picked up while hiding at the Mpape shanty market and had been handed over to the immigration service for deportation to their countries.
About 21 of the arrested suspects, which are currently being questioned by security operatives, were fingered in the recently aborted plan to attack the Kuje prisons in Abuja to free prisoners, a source said. He said rather than what the public had been told by the government, the real cause of the planned demolition was that the area had become the den of criminals from where attacks on the capital city could be hatched and executed.
It was learnt that the insistence of the Federal Capital Territory Administration on the demolition was predicated on a standing directive from the security agencies that buildings found to be housing members of the Islamic terrorist sect, Boko Haram, should be pulled down.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Bello Adoke, SAN, had advised the FCT minister to suspend the planned demolition pending the determination of a suit filed by Mpape residents before an Abuja high court contesting the exercise. Adoke’s advice was conveyed in a letter by Solicitor of the Federation and Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry Justice, Abdulahi Yola.
Adoke’s advice followed a petition to his office by lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN. Falana had petitioned following the FCT minister’s defiance of an earlier court order by Justice Idris Kutigi calling for a stay of the planned demolition.
A lawyer with Falana Chambers, Mr. Ogala Samuel, alleged that the FCT administration had moved into Mpape on Thursday with bulldozers and had begun knocking down some houses.
The National Human Rights Commission had also intervened by summoning the Director of the Department of Development Control of the FCTA, Yahaya Yusuf, to appear before it over the proposed mass demolition of houses at Mpape.