June 9, 2024

Abuja residents cry for help over homes demolition

World Igbo Congress urges S’East govs to stop demolition of houses

…Accuse FCDA, Police of complicity

By Emmanuel Elebeke

Residents of Committee on Resettlement and Development Layout (CRD), Lugbe, Airport Road in Abuja, have cried out to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Barr. Nyeson Wike to prevail on one Paul Odili, the developer and owner of River Park Estate, Lugbe, Airport Road from demolition of their houses and forceful possession of their land.

The resident made the plea at the weekend when they addressed the press on their plight and sought for government immediate intervention on the matter, as they face daily attacks and harassment from Mr. Odili.

They said their traitor claimed that the said land was allocated to him in 2007, 11 years after they (residents) acquired the same land in 1996 under the then leadership of late Gen. Sani Abacha.

According to them, Mr. Odili has defiled all authorities, including the order of a high court, an appeal court that dismissed all his claim pertaining to the ownweaship of the said land.

They also accused him of ignoring  an order by the National Assembly Committee on land, including an AIG of Police  in charge of land matters who had invited him for further investigation to embark on illegal demolition of their houses with paid thugs and security men, who beat, maim, intimidate and chase them out of their homes.

They said all their efforts to draw the attention of the FCDA’s Development Control Department  and Police had proved abortive, sensing a connivance with the private estate developer to forcefully take over their land.

The Residents are now beckoning on President Bola Tinubu and the FCT Minister, Nyeson Wike to act in their capacity as Chief security officers in their respective authorities to save their lives and  homes from the ongoing threats of Paul Odili.

CRD is an acronym for Committee on Resettlement and Development Layout, a residential area allocated to the present occupants in 1996 under the leadership of late Head of State, Sani Abacha.

Speaking on the demolition, the CRD Community President, Abduwasi Mustapha, said for over 10 to 15 years he had lived in the area peacefully, he had never witnessed the kind of harassment and desperation that is currently  being carried out by Paul Odili on the pretense that he wanted to claim his allocated land by Federal government.

He said, frantic efforts had been made to approach several authorities to rein on Mr. Odili to follow the path of law but he would not listen.

‘‘I’m the president of the community, our community has lived in peace for years.

When we started to experience thief activity, we approached several authorities to see how we could solve this. We have been to FCDA several times, in previous administrations about the horror and illegality of the River Park developer.

‘‘I live in this community, I live in peace. We lived here for many years. We haven’t recorded any crime stories. I don’t understand how a person would take the law into his own hands, to bring us to this place, demolishing our legal homes and to attack us. We are a community that has lived in peace for the last 15 years.

‘‘We told ‘Police in Lugbe about this, when we noticed these trees moving, we expressed it and realized that we should do it. This is Nigerian city, where the Institution of the Inspector General of Police, the Minister, Armed Services, Service, the National Service, the National Security Agency is located. Everything is located in Abuja.

On the legal status of the matter, he said, ‘‘We found that he has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court after he lost at both high and appeal courts. And in the Supreme Court, there’s not even any presentation paper.

‘‘If a document is destroyed in the High court and Appeal Court, I wonder what he wants to present to Supreme Court. Since, we are in court, I expect him to allow the court processes to take its course and stop taking the law into his hands. If we are truly in a society governed by law, Mr. Odili should be put in checks, ’’he said.

Another resident, Hon. Raphael Igu, who is the Presiding Judge and Chairman, Customary Court Grade A in Gwagwlada Magistrate Court also accused Paul Odili of having a hidden agenda to claim their land forcefully through an illegal means.

Igu, who is one of the elders in the community said, ‘‘I am one of the members of this community. I have a building here in this community. This area is part of the Lugbe I project. The facts are that this project was conceived in 1996 during the era of General Sania Abacha. Some of us were influential in building the city. Some of us influenced the development of the city. Some of us were located in Lugbe I. Government built a place here in 1996 during the time of General Sania Abacha.

‘‘What I know is that people bought this place, built houses and began to live in peace. There were no problems until 2007, we were surprised to see a young man named Paul Odili, who came to lay claims that he bought this same land we live in.

‘‘He created a development company and started pointing to our development. He claimed that the federal government gave him 474 hectare, almost half of Lugbe.

‘‘He came here, unleash criminals to scare us. At one point, some of our guys had to take him to court. Because we wouldn’t want to destroy public peace. It was around 2011, we were with them in court. At the end of the day the matter ended in our power around 2014. Every argument he raised that the federal government gave him here was illegal. Everything was destroyed by the court. And the judgment ended in our power. He moved to the Appeal Court  and the Appeal Court destroyed his case.

I have a copy of the High Court’s determination. I also have a copy of the determination of the Court of Appeal, which was made in our favour.

‘‘Now he has moved to the Supreme Court. When he moved to the Supreme Court,  depending on the decision of the Court, Some of the participants in this case went to Court. And I have a copy of the High Court’s determination.”

He said, the action of Odili was worrisome because, ”the matter again is before the Lugbe High Court waiting determination, but he is acting in complete disregard to the process, with the regulation, and with the power of the Court to decide the law and individual actions.’’

 Another victim of the illegal demolition, Azuka Okonkwo, narrated his ordeal, saying, the community had taken steps written to the authorities but it appeared they are compromised. He also accused the local police  and even the Commissioner of Police of colluding with the invader to destroy their property and take possession of them.

“We are not happy, we are only asking the Presidency, the FCT Minister to intervene, insisting that Mr. Odili is not above the law and as such should be made to respect the law.

‘‘At the moment, as I say, Odili has possession of almost half of our residence. Today our lives are in danger. Most of our houses were destroyed. Our defenses have been destroyed. We were very discouraged. They brought all kinds of criminals into our community to terrorize us here.

‘‘Every day he comes with all kinds of criminals to scare and terrify us. We cannot sleep and wake up in peace. That’s why we’re going to invite authorities to weigh in on this matter. We are under the authority of a man who has arrogated to himself  the authority of the court. We have not taken out his houses, even when he is under the authority of the court.’’