The battle for Abuja

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By Favour Nnabugwu and Retna Tohomdet

The last appears not to have  been heard about the incessant demolition carried out by the Federal Capital  Development Administration, FCDA, as Gbagyi indigenes have warned they would  lay down their lives for their ancestral homes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

*Lungu village head, Mr Sanya Easy Zakka

*Lungu village head, Mr Sanya Easy Zakka

Speaking to Sunday Vanguard in Abuja, the youth leader of Lungu village, Sarki Luka Sanya, who had to pull out from a community meeting, said the village was still collating  the number of houses demolished by the Development Control Department of the FCDA.

Sanya  said government had taken over 95 per cent of the farmland belonging to Abuja indigenes without compensation, adding that Gbagyi youths would stake their lives to resist further land takeover.

According to him, the community had instituted a suit against the FCDA at  an Abuja High Court restraining it from carrying out demolition of  its houses.

The youth leader stated that government did not make provision for the resettlement of Abuja indigenes whose land was taken over, stressing that the demolition of Gbagyi ancestral homes would lead to loss of roots and the identity of the people.

“Ninety five per cent of Gbagyi farmlands have been taken away and government is not satisfied, they still want to take away our ancestral lands and allocate them to private developers,” he added.

Community head of Lungu village,  Mr Sanya Zakka, in an interview, was honest enough to disclose  that there was no death recorded in the latest demolition.

“What we heard was that they demolished a house with  a  child inside. When that happened, the mother  was said to have picked either a knife or a bottle and killed herself and  her relations were called to take her to the hospital”, the community head said.

“So, we decided to go and see. When we got to the hospital, we were referred to different places  but we did not see any dead body. We said if indeed there was a death, we should know so we can fight the case but we did not see anything”.

Indigenes picking what remained of their belongings after the latest demolition

Indigenes picking what remained of their belongings after the latest demolition

Zakka said  Gbagyi indigenes were angered by the impromptu demolition and apparent attempt by the administration to  send  them out  of  the FCT. “You know people were terribly provoked because we are being cheated. When our farm lands were collected, we did not talk; now they have come over to our houses to leave us homeless”, he lamented.

“This is too much to bear hence the youths decided to protest. FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, sent a delegation,  led by his Special Adviser on Security, which  told us that the Minister was not aware of the demolition.

“We have been living here  for over 100 years before the  FCT came. This place is our father’s’ land. If the FCT  Administration  wants, they should come and kill us  rather than displace us from our ancestral homes.”

The Gbagyi indigenes  protest  caused  chaos on the Kubwa express road  as they barricaded the 10-lane road to condemn the demolition of their houses by the FCDA.

The action  caused severe hardship to commuters who were stranded for more than three hours  as the expressway was blocked with blocks. The protesters also made bonfires on the road.

Attempts by many motorists to make a  detour and return to the city centre worsened the traffic situation.
A woman was seen weeping helplessly when her sick husband who was on  life –support in a cab was trapped in the gridlock.

A victim of the demolition, Mr Danladi Yundabo, who said his four-bed room flat building was flattened, said the FCDA  did not give the victims  time to evacuate their belongings.

Yundabo, who sustained injuries on his right arm, said he was injured in the process of trying to salvage  his belongings.
“There was no information, no notice whatsoever.  I was struggling with them so my house won’t go down. As the owner of the house, you have to struggle. I  got injured in the process”.

The spokesman of the  FCDA Development Control, Mr. Kalu Emetu, said  officials only removed illegal settlements on a plot meant for estate development.
“Squatter-settlers encroached on Plot 64, Kafe District, in Lungu Village, which was meant for an estate”, he said.

According to him, a total of 54 illegal structures were demolished, including 17 shanties, five shops and one church.
“Development Control marked the area for demolition since March 2014 and the villagers went to court; the court finally struck out the case”, he stated.

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