CRD Lugbe residents cry out to Tinubu, FCT Minister against FCDA’s threat to demolish their homes

By our Reporter 

Residents and property owners in Committee on Resettlement and Development Layout, popularly called CRD, in Lugbe, along Airport Road in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have sent a passionate plea to President Bola Tinubu to save them from threats by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to demolish their homes and reallocate their lands to private estate developers.

In a “Save Our Souls” petition, copies of which were sent to several government authorities, including the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, and the National Assembly, the distressed residents said they have been subjected to incessant harassment and threats by officials of the Development Control Department of the FCDA working in connivance with the River Park Estate developer.

The residents said the latest experience was on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 when some of them returned home from work to find demolition notices pasted on the walls of their buildings by persons who claimed to be officials of the Development Control Department.

They said the notices informed owners of the affected houses that their properties have been marked for demolition within 21 days to make way for a Central Market in the area.

The notices read: “Demolition Notice. Plot No. Central Market (3785). District: Lugbe North. Cadastral Zone: E25. The Authority observed with dismay that the development or structure on plot … is defective and constitutes danger or nuisance to the public/adjoining plot. Take notice that you are given 21 days to comply by pulling down the structure or have the illegal development demolished in accordance with Section 61 of the Nigeria Urban and Regional Planning Act 1992.”

In the petition, copies of which were sent to the FCT Office of the Department of State Security (DSS), the residents expressed surprise that the Layout, which has been in existence since 1996 with fully developed properties, would suddenly be converted into a general market without the knowledge of residents and land owners.

Blaming the problem on the unholy connivance of some FCDA officials through the Development Control Department with a private estate developer, one Paul Odili to harass, intimidate, and illegally dispossess them of their properties, the resident urged President Tinubu and the FCT Minister to immediately wade into the simmering situation to avoid it imploding and resulting in avoidable multi-dimensional crises.

Since 2014, the residents said Mr Odili, through his firms, Houses for Africa Nigeria Limited; Jonah Nigeria Limited, and Paulo Homes Limited in River Park Estate, has been waging a series of illegal wars of conquest to achieve territorial expansion of his allocation into CRD land area.

“CRD layout, covering a land area of about 474 hectares, was created in 1996 by the FCDA to relocate and resettle persons affected by the dualization and expansion of the Airport Road within the Lugbe 1 area.

“Most of the lands in the CRD Layout were legally acquired from the FCDA. The layout was comprehensively designed with various infrastructures, including schools, hospitals, markets, town halls, recreational facilities, religious places of worship, police post, and other public institutions, etc.

“The area in contention, CRD Lugbe 1 Layout is identified in the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) as Plot No. 0235, where land titles owners have fully developed and occupied since 1996,” the Chairman of the CRD Residents and Landlords Association, Abdulwasiu Mustapha, said in the petition.

Available information from the FCDA shows that Mr Odili and his private estate development firms, who were allocated part of the CRD area in 2017 by the then El-Rufai administration in the FCT, have so far acquired almost half of the area.

“Our lands were given to Paul Odili without due process of law or revocation of existing titles in clear violation of the rights of the property owners. Since then, our lives have been a living hell. This man has deployed all known means to forcefully sack us from our lands. He has deployed security agencies to constantly, harass, intimidate, threaten, arrest, and detain our people without any lawful excuse.

“He has demolished our homes, barricaded our roads, dug trenches around our houses, and fenced our community in without outlets to the rest of the world. We have written to virtually all public institutions for intervention without success. We have sought reprieve from the courts, but he has ignored every restraining court orders without any consequence.

“Today, we are still in court with him, while some of our people have obtained judgments against him, both at the High Court and Court of Appeal without abating his threats and harassment. We want the President and the FCT Minister to wade in and save us,” the residents cried out in their petitions.

Although following the latest assault by the FCDA on February 7 the residents went the following day to meet with the Director of Development Control, Mukhtar Galadima, to seek clarification on their action, the Chairman of the Residents Association said it was surprising that his promise to convene a meeting of all stakeholders in the crisis to discuss the issues was yet to materialize several days after.

Mustapha said residents who attended the meeting with Mr Galadima were surprised that instead of addressing the areas of breaches of the extant laws regarding building designs and structures, he claimed the CRD community has been re-designed, and that most of the fully-developed houses and structures fell within the road corridors and a central market.

The Chairman said Mr Galadima did not produce the re-designed CRD layout, or said when the redesign was done without the knowledge of residents, neither did he identify the beginning of the road infrastructure and where it would terminate.

“We have lost confidence and trust in the Director’s handling of the matter. We suspect he is playing the familiar script and antics of Mr. Paul Odili with the evil intention of dispossessing us of our valued properties. There is no way an important action such as redesigning CRD would be done fairly without the involvement of the existing residents since 1996.

“As most of the residents of the CRD community are public and civil servants with pensioners who used their meager life savings to raise a place for their families to live, we will resist every attempt to render us homeless and turn us into refugees,” the residents said.

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