By Emman Ovuakporie and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – FORMER Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Bala Mohammed yesterday debunked insinuations that there were fraud in the allocation of 7,600 hectares of lands worth about N1trillion that were mapped out for land swap at the nation’s headquarters.
This is just as the Herman Hembe-led FCT House of Representatives Committee said it has discovered that majority of the Developers that participated in the land swap deal did not pay the compulsory N350 million as contained in the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, in the first 30 days to qualify them for the exercise.
Although, there was no direct attack on he former FCT minister, Bala Mohammed on the alleged sharp practice in the choice and allocation of lands to the developers, he debunked insinuations that he was involved in ‘deals’ in allocating lands to the investors.
The former minister explained that the idea of the land swap was as a result of infrastructure deficit at the FCT, despite N2 billion invested by the government in the development of the capital territory in the midst of scare resources, adding that since inception, FCT administration was only able to complete developments in 10 districts.
According to him, in the midst of the scarce resources, the government decided to bring investors especially as it discovered that the FCT land had value and could be given out for patronage.
He said” I invited the investors suffering today, I invited them personally. I forced the to come out of conviction. What I did, I did for Nigeria, posterity will judge me for what I have done.
“I didn’t make any deal. I did it with good intention, I didn’t need to get power from the National Assembly.”
But in the course of the public hearing, it was observed that most of the investors did not comply with the laid down guidelines on the land swap deal especially the non refundable sum of N350 million.
For instance, it was discovered that one of h investors, Abuja Investment Company Limited that was allocated 287.4 heaters of land had no record of payment, although, the former minister told the committee that he did not engage them, hence, they were not competent to participate in the public hearing.
Another company, Afri International Project Consulting Ltd was given a total of 317.21 hectares of land, yet there was no evidence of payment of the N350 million even the total bank account of the company as presented to the committee was below N18 million.
It was further discovered that there was no evidence of the payment of N350 million from Gwagwa Concession Ltd that was given a total of 841 hectares of land, but the company was the only one that had records of some payment which was not to the tune of the amount stipulated on the expression of interest.
Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre (AIIC), which got 289.9 hectares of land allegedly failed to pay the N350 million non-refundable fee in contravention to the terms of agreement between the FCT administration and investors.
In its submission to the FCT Committee, AIIC explained that the company is still seeking for credible investors that would buy into the scheme for the development of the allocated land.
Sani Yakubu, Head of Business Development for AIIC, at the opening of investigative public hearing on the alleged malpractices associated with the allocation of land to 25 investors under the Land Swap scheme of the past administration, admitted that the company was given the allocation under the Land Swap programme.
He said: “we did accept the offer but we did not have the document that said so.”
Hembe, the Committee Chairman pledged the resolve of the Committee to be fair as well as be guided by the submissions received in the bid to determine if the FCT followed due process as provided by the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Land Use Act.
“Having established the legality of our actions herein, accordingly, the Committee set out to do the following to ensure that principles of fairness, priority and transparency are entrenched in the process.
“We requested from Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre all relevant information and documents related to the Land Swap programme. We also requested some information from investors in the programme and have received as much communication on the matter as both the AIIC and investors showed a willingness to supply.
“We viewed the provisions of the Land Use Act, in relationships with the Land Swap programme to determine that the programme was not in conflict with the Act. We sought to identify the ground rules set by the FCT through the AIIC for the conduct of the Land Swap programme were followed by the FCT itself and that the FCT ensured that the investors also followed the said rules.”
While declaring the investigative public hearing open, Speaker, Yakubu Dogara noted that the facts available to the House, showed that under the Land Swap policy, Government “set out to make up for the deficits in financing the development of the district’s by engaging private developers and investors to fund the development of these districts in the interest of the people of FCT and Nigerian as a whole.”
Other investors invited by the Committee are: Urban Shelter Infrastructure Limited; BDG Properties Limited; Day Spring Properties Limited; Gilmore Nigeria Limited; Dangote Group; Haitong International Nigeria Limited; Bolmus Nigeria Limited; Deepearth Nigeria Limited; AM-PM Global Network Limited; System Properties Development Consortium Limited; Excite Business Facilities Limited; Afri-International Project and Consulting Limited and Rosehill Group.
Others include: Waru Pozema District Infrastructure Company Limited; Dozzy Oil and Gas Limited; Knox Energy Limited; M. I. Solaries Industries Limited; Ketti East District Infrastructure Development Company Limited; Nice Corporate Services Limited; Locke International Consultancy Limited; Masanawa Enterprises Limited; Urage Real Estate; Abuja Investment Company Limited and Plethora Realty & Facility Managers Limited.