Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
Soldiers saturday seized the premises used by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin, Azibaola Robert, as construction site for the provision of engineering infrastructure in Maitama Extension District, Abuja.
THISDAY gathered that the premises, which share the same boundary with the Lungui Barracks of the Nigerian Army along the Kubwa/Asokoro Expressway, found that the soldiers drove away all the workers from the site as soon as they stormed the massive premises.
A few of the soldiers manned the entrance to the construction site being used by Kakarta Civil Engineering Limited, while the other soldiers kept vigil inside the premises overlooking the Katampe hills.
“We are on order from the Chief of Army Staff to take over this place and not to allow anyone in or out of the premises,” a junior soldier, mounting the gate stated. “It was one of our generals, who led the team of soldiers to take over this place but we do not know the reason for our being here.”
As a result of the invasion of the premises of the construction firm, workers who reported for their daily routine were chased away from the site by fierce-looking armed military, who said they were under strict instruction to bar anyone from entering the place.
The strange development came a few weeks after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had charged Robert and his company, One-Plus, to court for allegedly receiving $40 million security contract from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki.
Robert and his company were granted bail by a Federal High Court after the charges were read to them but it is not clear why the army has swooped on the construction premises approved for him by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration to use as a base for the coordination of the provision of services for the owners of plots at the Maitama Extension District.
The residence of the Senate President and other principal officers of the National Assembly as well as prominent Nigerians who are developing their plots of land allocated by the FCDA are on the same plot of land being invaded by the soldiers.
Although the Nigerian Army is yet to give official explanation for the takeover of the firm, THISDAY learnt from a top officer that the army was laying claim of ownership to the premises being used by the former president’s cousin, which borders with its Lungui Barracks.
The officer said the army was uncomfortable with the presence of the company near its barracks, describing it as a breach of security.
It was also gathered that the use of blasting materials for construction by the firm close to the army barracks was offensive to the army authorities but they could not voice their aversion to the development while Jonathan was the president and commander-in-chief.
“It is true the army authorities deployed soldiers to close the place last night and prevented workers from entering the premises today,” the army officer said.
One of the site workers, Mr. Maxwell Udom, said no site worker was allowed to cross the site gate by the armed military men, stressing that no prior notice was served before their action.