Perturbed by incessant complaints about Nigerian Army (NA) personnel getting involved in land- related disputes, the 81 Division recently inaugurated a standing committee to tackle such issues.
The committee headed by 81 Division Garrison Commander, Brigadier General NMS Najidada also has the division’s Provost, Colonel AC Chukwuma, Major AA Jimoh; Captain N Maigari and Lt. YO Mathew as members.
General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major General Lawrence Fejokwu, who inaugurated the committee at the division’s headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos, said it was expected to establish a mechanism for amicable resolution of reported land disputes involving serving and retired personnel.
The GOC said with its establishment, soldiers would no longer have to individually go to communities where they purchased land if there are disputes, as their cases would be handled by the committee when and where necessary.
He said allegations of soldiers invading communities over land issues would also be addressed by the committee should affected communities bring forward their complaints.
He said: “We are taking another step towards solving problem of land disputes in 81 Division’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) involving our personnel both serving and retired. We have been inundated with various complaints from both our personnel and communities.
“It is either the communities run to us to complaint that soldiers are invading their lands or our soldiers are complaining that they bought lands overtime that have appreciated and the communities revoked such lands and want to reallocate them to other lands.
“The idea behind this committee is that personnel within the division’s AOR with land issues do not have to go there individually but should approach the committee, tender documents which will be looked into.
“If it is valid, the committee will go as 81 Division representatives to resolve the issue. “We hope this approach will solve the problem of communities trying to revoke lands already sold to our personnel on the one hand, and stop the idea of soldiers taking laws into their hands out of frustration.”
Adding that the committee was inaugurated at the instance of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Farouk Yahaya, he said they are to continuously tackle identified problems in their command until such issues are resolved.
Another issues he hoped would be contained with the establishment of the standing committee was that of impersonators and not military personnel, who get involved in such land disputes.
He said it would also aggregate data and look into issues involving the revocation of land following a buyer’s non-compliance to deadline for physical possession within stipulated timelines.
“That is what we are trying to do, hoping that this will solve this problem once and for all. If a soldier runs foul of a land purchase agreement, the committee will tell him same. It is also a forum where issues will be aggregated and data generated.
” If our data tilts to the fact that the problem lies with soldiers not taking physical possession within stated time frames, it is left for us to begin to educate our soldiers on areas they run foul of the law.
“If on the other hand, we find out that the communities are trying to take advantage because the land has appreciated, we will also move as a division to tell them they cannot do that to our personnel.
“These agreements sometimes should be made flexible. For instance, when will a soldier who may be in theatre of operation for two or more years have time to come and develop a property he bought within a year, ” he added.