By Henry Umoru & Levinus Nwabugughiogu
ABUJA — Following the raid on an uncompleted building believed to be a hideout of Boko Haram members near the legislative quarters at Apo, Abuja, last Friday by the Department of State Service, DSS, which claimed 10 lives, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) announced, yesterday, that 100,435 illegal, uncompleted buildings have been marked for demolition.
FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed disclosed this when the House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Safety and National Security visited his office on oversight duties. According to him, 100,000 illegal buildings and 435 uncompleted houses have so far been identified in the FCT to be pulled down. He explained that his administration would no longer condone the delays by developers in completing their buildings, after being allocated plots of land.
Said he: “Very soon, we will take a decisive action on uncompleted buildings in the FCT. We will ensure that all buildings that have exceeded the two-year period approved for building will be demolished. If we cannot demolish, we will make them police posts. This time around, we will take a definite action,” he said.
Owner of Apo killings house identified
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA has formally come up with the identity of the owner of the property, declaring that it belongs to Adunni Oluwola Salisu, a civilian, contrary to speculation that a General owns the property.
The disclosure came just as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika insisted that artisans arrested during the encounter last Friday were terrorists, considering ammunition recovered from them
The FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed at a public hearing organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Public Safety and National Security investigating the incident explained that the said plot of land was allocated in 2007 and obtained a building plan approval from the Development Control Department granted in 2009.
Also speaking with Vanguard yesterday, the Director, Development Control, FCDA, Yahaya Yusuf gave the name of the owner of the said property as Adunni Oluwola Salisu.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika who also spoke with newsmen after a closed-door session with the committee, said that, “considering the ammunition recovered, in addition to arms and weapons from suspects and from the fact that on approach to the area, the personnel were fired at and had to return fire and also made arrests, there is no doubt that those people were terrorists.”
When asked if he believed that the operation was successful beside the killings, he said: “Well, I will say that the operation has succeeded in pre-empting planned attacks on some parts of the FederalCapitalTerritory.”
The Army boss explained that the operation was not the first as his men succeeded in intercepting several intended terrorist attacks on the FCT in recent times.
He said the information on the activities of the terrorist group around Apo area could not be turned down because security agents had conducted a thorough investigation before making the move to remove the explosives.
The attack, according to him, was coordinated by the Commander, Guards Brigade and was carried to intercept hidden improvised explosive devices (IED) in a cemetery in the area.
Motorcycle, tricycle operators issue ultimatum
Meanwhile, the National Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owner’s and Riders Association of Nigeria (NATOMORAS) yesterday gave the Federal Government seven days ultimatum to set up a commission of inquiry to unravel the killing of eight tricycle operators in Apo and if the government fails to meet the ultimatum, it will shut down the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Reacting yesterday in Abuja for the first time since the incident happened last Friday at a one-day seminar on the challenges of tricycle and okada operators in FCT, NATOMORAS FCT Chairman, Alhaji Usman Buba Gwoza lamented that their members were gruesomely murdered without just reason. He stressed that the association appreciated the support of good Nigerians, the Senate and Human Rights Commission for lending their voices for justice to be done.
Integrity test for uncompleted buildings
Speaking further, the FCTA Minister who announced that there were 435 uncompleted, but abandoned buildings scattered across the Federal Capital City that were already undergoing integrity test for re-validation of approval to continue development, stressed that being apprehensive of negative possible impact on the environment, he had earlier directed the FCT Development Control Department to take census of all uncompleted and abandoned structures in the city to ensure that they all undergo integrity test.
According to him, any of such uncompleted building that fails integrity test would be demolished to safeguard lives, adding that the outcome of the census would be used by the Administration and the security agencies in preventing miscreants from using such areas for unlawful activities. He also warned that the FCT Administration will use the census to clean up the city and that where miscreants were found, owners of such buildings will have themselves to blame.
He said: “The FCT Administration will use the outcome of that census which had earlier been advertised to swing into action. Members of the public are enjoined to be vigilant at all times and report suspicious activities to law enforcement agents.”
Speaking further, NATOMORAS FCT chairman said, “We call on the federal government to immediately set up commission of inquiry to unravel the mystery behind this inhuman act. Killing of innocent and armless citizens of our great nation should not be tolerated by caring and loving government. We shall immediately be embarking on protest throughout the entire FCT if this is not met within seven days,” he said.
Buba Gwoza who noted that eight years after the ban on commercial motorcycles in the capital territory, FCT administration has refused to fulfil its promise to provide tricycle as an alternative to those affected during the ban He said that the association has over 15,000 tricycle and 80,000 okada operators in FCT, adding that 20,000 motorcycles of its members have been impounded since the ban of okada in the capital territory without informing the association on the guidelines to recover them.
Speaking at the event, Chairman, Senate Committee on MDGs, Senator Ali Ndume who appealed to the association to shelve its proposed protest until the Senate looks into the Apo killing, however warned that the fight against terrorism should not be an excuse to take innocent lives, adding that there was no law in the country banning the operation of okada, adding that he would not know why government should wake up and ban okada in FCT.