Osinbajo Averts Crisis in Abuja as Residents Protest Land Grab by Military

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Yemi Osinbajo

• Army legally acquired land in FCT, Buratai insists

Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday averted what would have been a violent protest by the indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over alleged land grab by the military, when he alighted from his convoy to assuage protesters.

But in a swift reaction, the Nigerian Army insisted yesterday that it legally acquired its landed property in parts of the FCT, and advised the indigenes protesting to channel their complaints to the appropriate quarters.

Osinbajo who was headed to Ekiti State for official engagement, was said to have ran into the protesters who had barricaded the road.

He alighted from his car and had a chat with the protesting youths who began chanting his name as soon as they identified him.

The protesters comprising mainly of young men and some women from Gbayi village, were said to be protesting at Gossa, over the alleged invasion of their land by the military, and urged the vice president to intervene in the issue.

Osinbajo later assured them that he would meet with the village leaders to find lasting solution to the problem at hand, urging the youth to seek more diplomatic ways of solving issues.

He assured them that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is dedicated to the people, adding that the dividend of democracy will be enjoyed by all.

The spokespersons of the protesters said if they had known that the vice President was going to ply the road they would not have acted in the manner, which they did.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai said that the military “legally acquired’’ its landed property

He stated this in reaction to the protest by some indigenes of FCT who barricaded the Air Port road, alleging that the army grabbed their land.

Buratai spoke at the foundation-laying ceremony for the construction of the “Army Command Estate and Headquarters, Directorate of Army Legal Services’’ at Muhammadu Buhari Cantonment at Giri on the Airport Road.

He said the protests would not yield any result.

The Army Chief added, “This particular estate (land) was granted to the Nigerian army in 1979. However, we got the official allocation with the Right of Occupancy (C of O) in 1997 by the Federal Capital Administration.

“In 2011, when all lands in the territory were revoked and owners of land were directed to re-certify their land, the Nigerian Army along with other services, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air Force, duly applied for the re-certification.

“We paid the dues that was meant for the re-certification and got our acknowledgment. That is to say that we have legally and timely certified this particular land.’’

He said that all the documents of the land were with the Abuja Geographical Information Service (AGIS), of the FCT, adding that any move to disrupt the ongoing construction work on the land would be fruitless.

Buratai advised those alleging the army grabbed their land to channel their complaint to the appropriate quarters rather than protesting and barricading highways.

“They (protesters), should not allow themselves to be deceived and take the laws into their hands,’’ he said.

THISDAY gathered that te construction of structures are already ongoing in the over 4,000 hectares of land to accommodate newly established Headquarters of Army Aviation Corps, Women Corps, Space Command, as well as officers and soldiers’ quarters.

Also located in the land is headquarters of the Nigerian Army’s Farms and Ranches Ltd.

A coalition of FCT indigenous associations had recently accused the army of grabbing their land and protested to the National Assembly over the issue.

They had also protested to the office of the Minister of FCT, calling for his intervention, alleging that the army wanted to collect their land located at Zuba, Iddo, Sabo and Tuga Maje, all on Airport Road.

Buratai used the occasion to charge officers and men on the need to make sure the country was kept safe and secured, and continued support for the administration.

He reminded them of the strategic importance of the military in democratic dispensation, adding that they “must defend democracy.’’

The Army Chief further stated, “We are much, much better in democracy than any other system. We must ensure that we perform our constitutional responsibilities with all the seriousness it deserves.

“We must all ensure that all our ongoing operations are stepped up.

The insecurity that we are facing in the North East and other parts of the country require more initiative and require us to think of the box to get the right solution,” he added.