By Marie-Therese Nanlong
The Plateau State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has accused the State Governor, Simon Lalong of an agenda to use the State House of Assembly to grab indigenous land for the “Ruga” policy.
The State Chairman of the Party, Gwott Chocho made the assertion at a press briefing in Jos on Friday.
He said, “Our attention today has been drawn to a controversial Bill for a law to make Provision for the Administration of Land in Plateau State and for other matters connected to 2019, sponsored by one Hon. Dasun Philip Peter, member representing Pankshin North in the Plateau Sate House of Assembly.
“This bill has passed its second reading on Tuesday 3rd March, 2020 and is expected to pass its 3rd reading on 25th March, 2020. PART II (1) of the bill states that ‘Pursuant to the provision of the Land use Act, the Governor shall in respect of Land in the State whether or not the Land is located in an urban Area have power to: (a) grant statutory rights of occupancy to any person for all purposes.
“The bill firstly contradicts the Land use Act of 1978 which is enshrined in the provisions stated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). The Land Use Act, enacted in 1978, was meant to standardize land administration systems across the country.
“It vested all urban land within a State in the state governor and all non-urban land in the Local Governments in which they are found. (There are currently 36 States in Nigeria and 774 Local Government Areas). The State governor and Local Government authorities are empowered by the Act to grant ‘statutory rights of occupancy’ to areas within their jurisdiction.
“This bill if passed without expunging that part that contradict the Land Use Act and allows the Governor total control over the entire Land of the Sate, Plateau people will be deprive of their land which is part of their heritage and their ancestral inheritance.”
Chocho added that his Party is suspicious of the bill stressing, “Therefore, we see this as an attempt of the executive governor to cede some portions of individuals and community land belonging to Plateau people for his RUGA agenda. It is unfortunate that up to this moment our dear governor has continued to exhibit a deep sense of ill will towards the people of Plateau in favour of his pay masters.
Effort to get the reaction of Dasun who incidentally is the Chairman, House Committee on Information was unsuccessful as he did not pick nor return the call put across to his known phone number.