By Peter Duru
MAKURDI â€” The Benue State government has taken decisive steps to check incidents of fraud and racketeering associated with land acquisition and administration in the state with the introduction of strict due process in every land transaction in the state.
The government has also moved against corrupt officials who hitherto connived with land speculators to defraud the state government of revenue with all payments now made directly into government coffers through designated banks.
Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Mr. John Tondu, who dropped this hint while answering questions from newsmen in Makurdi warned that anyone caught contravening the governmentâ€™s directives in that regards would be made to face prosecution.
Tondu said the Ministry had restored sanity in land administration in the state with a clear directive on those wishing to own land in the state to apply directly to the government rather than do so through unconventional means.
He said: â€œGovernment by this directive did not place embargo on land acquisition, all we have done is to instill sanity and due process in the system because at a point the system was literally hijacked by speculators and racketeers who have made nonsense of the governmentâ€™s master planâ€.
â€œBut we have been able to check the illegal practices perpetrated in land administration and acquisition in the state, because as you know government is the custodian of land title and not the other way round.â€
According to him, the state government has successfully mapped out layouts across the state and the allotment of same would commence as soon as work was completed on the sites.
The Commissioner reiterated the commitment of the Ministry of Lands and Survey under his headship to ensure the thorough screening of all applications for lands in the state with a view to ensuring that deserving persons benefitted from governmentâ€™s allotments.