Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammad Bello, monday accused one of his predecessors, Senator Adamu Aliero, as the architect of the current face-off between the Nigerian Army and civilians in FCT over the rightful ownership of 238 hectares of land in Maitama Extension.
Bello who made this allegation while appearing before the Senate Committee on FCT in the National Assembly, said the 238 hectares of land were originally allocated to the Nigerian Army in 1996 but Aliero later re-allocated about 600 plots of the land to some notable civilians and retired military officers without revoking the allocation made in 1996 by Lt. Gen. Jeremiah Useni (rtd.).
He said: “I want to just mention that the area in contention was actually an area earmarked for the Nigerian Army under the Guards Brigade way back in 1996. But for sometime in 2009 a portion and the entire area in contentious is about 246 hectares or thereabout.
“Sometime in 2009, plot allocations were made there and commitments were undertaken by the FCTA in terms of infrastructure. Allocated plots in that area from our records numbered about 600 plots out of which Certificates of Occupancy (C-of- O) have been issued to about 200 from payments of about N5.6 billion have been received aside commitment of about N9billion billion already made in respect of providing infrastructure in the area out of estimated N23 billion,” he said.
He appealed to the committee to give the FCT authority and the Army more time to resolve the problem. “At the end of the day, we would be able to reach a solution to meet the needs of the military and of course, ensure also those that were allocated plots in that area in terms of financial commitments, do not lose their commitments,” Bello said.
In his submission, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, explained that after acquiring the land, the military would relocate from its temporary areas of operation adding that the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force and the Defence Headquarters do not currently occupy the right places for such operations.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, suggested that compensation should be considered for individuals who have already developed their property on the land they thought was legally acquired.
Meanwhile, Buratai yesterday lamented the killing of Lt. Col. Mohammed Abu-Ali, six other soldiers and a naval rating by Boko Haram insurgents last weekend in Borno State and called for scrutiny of responses by individuals and organisations to national defence in the country.
He said the death of Ali and other soldiers should open the eyes of security personnel in their fight against Boko Haram insurgency.
He said: “I want to tell you that the fight against Boko Haram insurgents is a matter of concern to everyone and what we are going to witness today (yesterday) at the burial ceremony should be an eye-opener.
“Although we have several cases of soldiers killed in the past but at this point in time, it calls for proper scrutiny of responses by individuals and indeed organisations to national defence and security issues. We must take the issue of defence and security very seriously so that collectively we would fight these insurgents to its final conclusion,” Buratai said.