Some days back, the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja clocked 40 with little applauds from the original inhabitants who remember the years gone with lamentations.OGECHI OKORONDU writes…
As Abuja marks forty years of its creation as the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria, natives of the area under the banner of the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja, OIDA have appealed to the federal government to stop the disenfranchisement and ongoing sufferings of the people by democratizing the system of governance in the FCT.
In a statement by its President, Pastor Danladi Jeji, OIDA, said the February 3rd, 1976 pronouncement of Abuja as Nigeria’s capital by Major General Murtala Muhammed has multiplied the misery and woes of the original inhabitants of the FCT with natives lagging behind in terms of education, political, economic and social opportunities.
Jeji said “as we recall the annexation of our lands forty years ago by the Nigerian government, we remain dismayed by General Murtala who erroneously referred to this area as ‘virgin land with sparse population’. How could a land be virgin and populated at the same time? This was the first contradiction. Infact, the imaginary ‘virgin land’ was later confirmed by ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo as homeland to over 400,000 indigenous Nigerian citizens who had settled, cultivated and adapted to this geo-climatic area since prehistoric times.”
“Thus, the demolition of our homes, farmlands and land-grab by the federal government, politicians in power and wealthy land speculators in different guises have become the order of the day since 1976 without due compensation or regard for our existence as humans.”
Jeji further lamented that “unlike other citizens of Nigeria, we are stateless people with our children constantly mocked as stateless Nigerians, our lawyers presently do not have opportunities to become Chief Judges, our politicians do not have opportunities of becoming commissioners, state house of assembly members or governors, our civil servants are short-changed from rising to positions of permanent secretaries or Head of Service, the development of our communities are at the mercies of strangers who are appointed by leaders at the federal level who hardly know the yearnings of our people. Our constitutional rights to self-determination have been usurped by the Nigerian state thereby rendering us stateless.”
The people however, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure the governance of the FCT by introducing a bill in the National Assembly for urgent constitutional amendment to allow FCT to fully operate as a second-tier system of government.
“We want subsequent presidents of Nigeria to relinquish their powers as Governor of FCT and the National Assembly to also relinquish its powers as the House of Assembly for the FCT, to the original inhabitants and residents of the FCT so that they can freely elect those to govern them directly rather than the indirect rule presently obtainable in the territory.”
Jeji also added that “we want the right to elect our governor and have an FCT House of Assembly driven by our people to make laws for our people and residents. We are also asking for the establishment of an FCT Original Inhabitants Development Commission.”
OIDA traced the hardship and challenges facing the original inhabitants of the Territory to the defective legal framework known as Decree No. 6 of 1976 (now FCT Act, Cap 503 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.) noting that “in legal parlance, the provisions of section 6 of the FCT Act is null and void because of its obvious inconsistencies with the Constitution. But be that as it may, the Act has remained the only legal instrument that is being used” by the Nigerian government to administer the FCT.
The natives called on the Nigerian government not to shy away from owning up to the fact that it had woefully failed to compensate, resettle or reintegrate FCT original inhabitants since 1976 as a result of its ultimate failure to compensate the natives with the 1978 compensation figure of N2.8 billion.
Warning the Federal Government of the consequences of neglecting the original inhabitants of the FCT, OIDA said “the denial of natives the right to fully participate in the political, economic and other rights granted to fellow Nigerians is tantamount to denial of our fundamental human rights. Our rights should be restored and our properties be adequately compensated for justice.”
The president asked the nine indigenous tribes of the FCT namely, Amwamwa, Bassa, Egbura, Gade, Ganagana, Gbagyi, Gbari, Gwandara and Koro to unite and forge a common front for the emancipation of Abuja natives.
Earlier, indigenes from Garki, Apo Akpajenya and Dagbalo communities have called on the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello, to consider the option of integration policy rather than relying on the resettlement and compensation policy.
Speaking on behalf of Abuja residents, Rev.Tanko Danjuma, urged the minister to scrap the current FCDA and sack any director that has involved on any means of corrupt activities that led to the fraud that marred the resettlement and compensation of Garki, Dagbalo and Akpajenya communities.
Danjuma therefore, appealed to the Minister to visit those communities surrounded and occupied by mansions called estate to private individual blocking communities from expansion.
On provision of social amenities, Magajin Garki, Joel Yazegbe, urged the administration to provide water in rural areas and revisit the issue of resettlement carried out by the last administration by setting up a proper committee to probe the issue that marred the entire resettlement exercise that was inclusive because most of the areas were given out to none indigenes and the highest business bidders.
Meanwhile, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Mohammad Musa Bello explained that at 40 Abuja has grown into a beautiful city with many infrastructures.
Reports say the land now called Abuja was originally the south-western part of the ancient Hausa kingdom of Zazzau now Zaria. It was populated for centuries by several semi-independent tribes. The largest of the tribes was Gbagyi now Gwari, followed by the Koro and a few other smaller tribes. In early 1800′s when Zaria fell to Fulani invaders, Muhammed Makau, fled south with some followers and his brothers- Abu Ja and Kwaka. Abu Ja succeeded Makau in 1825.
He explained that the focus in the last 40 years has been on building the city but now it behoves on the administration to maintain already established infrastructures.
“Now it is time to maintain the services that already exist by maintaining the infrastructures on ground.”
Fire burns down Mammy Market
…destroys properties worth millions of naira
By Ogechi Okorondu
Monday, February 8, will remain a sad day for those who live around the popular, “Mammy market” around the boundary road between Nyanya and Mararaba as they woke up to meet a fiery fire that consumed properties worth millions of naira.
According to a resident, Mr. Oluwasheyi Fadare, the fire incident started around 12:45 am, some minutes after they brought light to the area.
“Actually we had no lights but around 12:45am they brought our light. Fifteen minutes later we discovered the electricity cable had sparked off fire in the market area. Before we could get there, the fire was beyond our control. We alerted the fire service and they came around with about 4 cars, yet they could not put off the fire.”
He stated that it took the fire service about 30 minutes to respond and when they came they had no water in their vehicle.
“When they came we discovered that there was no water inside the vehicles, they had to go and look for water.”
He blamed the frequent fire break out in the market on the materials used to construct the market. He said they have just batchers serving as shades, which easily gets consumed once there a fire outbreak.
Many people have been hospitalised, others injured but no life was lost in the fire incident.
The residents have pleaded on the Federal government to intervene in the situation by ensuring that only block buildings are erected in that area to reduce the occurrence of such fire disasters.
Council chairmen to be punished over filthy environments
The FCT Administration said his administration will not hesitate to punish any area council chairmen in the Federal Capital Territory , FCT who has refused to key into the ongoing Household and Community Sanitation exercise in the territory.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello said this at the flagging – off exercise of the Household and Community Sanitation exercise in Kwali, the headquarters of the Kwali Area Council of the FCT at the weekend, adding that his Administration has considered the policy of punishment and reward as it concerns environmental sanitation to encourage the residents proactively clean their immediate environment.
Malam Bello revealed that the chairman of the cleanest Area Council at the end of the year would not only be recognized but would enjoy certain privileges even at the national level by representing the territory.
The Minister said that the FCTA has already put mechanism in place to reward the cleanest Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory with a befitting prize and further noted that the issues of improved personal hygiene and removal of environmental nuisances in the Area Councils and Satellite Towns in the Federal Capital Territory, is on the front burner of the current FCT Administration.
He expressed the need to go back to the old ways of keeping our environment clean necessitated the introduction of the FCT Household and Community Sanitation Exercise, and therefore urged the Council Chairmen, Traditional Rulers and community leaders to key in.
He also promised that the traditional ruler in whose domain is the cleanest Area Council would also be adequately rewarded and thus, charged the Traditional Rulers to take the lead.
The Minister assured that the FCT Administration would support the Area Councils financially and with quality policies to drive this laudable programme.
“It is our duty individually and collectively to safeguard and maintain our environment because nobody can do it better than us.”
Malam Bello used the occasion to call on all the residents of the Federal Capital Territory to imbibe the Change Agenda of the Federal Government, by changing their attitude as political, traditional, community, religious leaders, civil servants and citizens.
The Minister noted that the community-based approach to environmental sanitation would lead to a more realistic and sustainable effort in maintaining the environment.
Welcoming guests to the occasion, the Chairman of Kwali Area Council, Mr. Ibrahim Daniel thanked the Minister for introducing the Household and Community Sanitation exercise; adding that it would go along way in reducing incidences of avoidable diseases in the Territory.
He seized the opportunity to call on the FCT Administration to please complete the Kwaita road under construction since 2004 as well as the Kwali Township roads.
The FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, the Executive Secretary of the FCDA, Engineer Adamu Ismaila, several directors of the FCT Administration and all the four graded traditional rulers in the Kwali Area Council led by the Etsu Kwali also attended the flag-off ceremony.
We need to identify vandals-FCT MINISTER tells Police
The Federal Capital Territory Administration has appealed to the Police high command to step up surveillance on the increasing activities of vandals in the Federal Capital City and arrest those involved.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello made this appeal recently while receiving the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase that paid him a working visit in his office at Area 11, Garki I District, Abuja.
The Minister specifically requested the Police to apprehend those removing vital equipments as electrical and telecommunication cables, manhole covers as well as railway tracks, that are still under construction.
Malam Bello warned that the security agents have to frontally tackle all those engaged in these nefarious activities, which has the potentials of graduating into big time criminals if they are not adequately checked.
His words: “What is more disturbing now is that even the urban railway system that is under construction, vandals have started vandalizing the tracks by removing vital equipments. Of course, the issue of the manhole covers is well known. Each manhole is probably about four meters deep and when you leave it open, it’s very dangerous”.
According to him, “even though these might not appear to be very serious crimes compared to armed robbery and kidnapping, they are still crimes because those that do these minor criminal activities eventually graduate to become big time criminals”.
He charged the Inspector-General to also unmask those patronizing these vandals to put an end to the illicit trade; stressing, “we need to identify who those vandals are and the markets where they take these items for sale”.
“We need to make examples with some people; or else, government will continue to invest a lot of resources on key infrastructure and people will just vandalize and sale them for a fraction of the cost,” the Minister added.
Malam Bello used the occasion appreciate the existing cordial relationship that exists between the FCTA and the Nigeria Police which he noted has made his job and the security of Abuja a lot easier.
The Minister pledged that the FCT Administration would continue to support the security agencies to do their job of making Abuja a very secure city.
The Minister however frowned at the scenario where some Abuja motorists flout basic traffic rules; describing it is disheartening to see that up till now, some road users in Abuja still do not like to obey traffic signs.
Earlier in his remark, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase appreciated the logistic support of the FCTA and called for more assistance in terms vehicles to the FCT Police Command to boost their surveillance activities.
The Police boss revealed that he has deployed horses to strategic areas like the Federal Secretariat to beef up security activities; remarking that the Police Force would do everything possible within its powers to keep Abuja safe.
Mr. Arase further solicited the support of the FCT Administration to provide FCT a befitting Police Headquarters that will give the ambience the Federal Capital Territory truly deserves.
President of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners , NITP, Mr Femi Olomola, has called for enforcement of town planning regulations for well-organised settlements in Nigeria.
Olomola, who made the call in an interview in Lagos, said that a consortium of professionals from both public and private sectors could do the enforcement based on specific modalities.
According to him, the town planners in government lack the capacity and capability to bring about an adequate system that will cope with the increasing level of development in terms of settlements.
“The issue of all these new settlements coming up, not conforming with the planning regulations, I think the fault is basically with the system, inadequate man power to enforce those regulations.
“Go to all the rural areas, go to even the urban fringes, the laws are there but we don’t have the machinery to enforce.One can say, okay , government should employ more hands to look into the problem to enforce but the government hasn’t got the capability, they don’t have the capacity as well.
“To come up with what I consider an adequate system to actually cope with the level of developments here and there. Government should be looking at how they can privatise the town planning system.
“There is nothing fantastic about it which cannot be privatised; let there be a consortium of professionals, give them the brief and let them work out the modalities on how to achieve it. As long as we rely on either the federal or the state government or the local government system to cope and to give us the kind of environment we want, we cannot achieve it.”
Female bus conductor beckoning on passengers recently in Abuja
Natives appeal for justice in court over resettlement case
Natives of Dagbalo and Akpagian communities in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT are appealing for justice over the case between the communities and the FCT authority, as a result of complete demolition of the community without compensation.
The Leader of the communities, Rev. Danjuma Tanko made this call after the judgment which was fixed for February 3, was halted by an announcement by the presiding Judge, Justice Jude Okeke that he was too ill to deliver the judgement, which has been adjoined on two occassions.
According to Tanko who was visibly disappointed that the judgement was adjoined the second time, he prayed that God will grant the Justice Okeke quick recovery and wisdom to handle the case wisely, by delivering the judgment in the fear of God.
“Nobody can cheat nature, if the Judge said he is sick, we wish him quick recovery. I have told my people to patiently wait for the final judgment, because, we Gbagyis are peace loving people. So, we will wait and see justice prevails by the grace of God,” he said.
Counsel to affected communities, Faith Ogbeide explained that a new date has not been fixed for the judgement, that the Judge was able to deliver just one judgement, because of his ill health and will fix a new date for the other judgements when he gets better.
“The Judge is not in a very good state of health and we do not have a new date for now. But, when he get better, he will tells us when the Judgement will be delivered,” she said.
It will be recalled that the FCT High Court had fixed December 9, 2015 for the judgment of the case between the FCTA and indegenes of Dagbalo and Akpagian communities and was later adjoined to February 3, 2016, because of the judicial week.
Incest: Father impregnates daughter
By Yomi Kareem
A 40-year-old printer in Minna, Niger State, Lamidi Kehinde, is presently cooling off in police cell for allegedly having carnal knowledge of his own daughter which eventually led to a child.
According to the 21-year-old daughter, Bidemi Kehinde, she reported the matter when she got tired of being abused by her father who continually forced himself on her until she got pregnant and gave birth to a baby a month ago. In her report, she ran away from home after enduring the abuse for very long and sought comfort with a woman who employed her to sell traditional herbs (agbo) in order to nurture her baby.
Angered by the revelations of the girl, the herbal merchant, Sade Adebayo, reported Bidemi to a vigilante group in the area which brought the case to the police in Suleja, Niger State.
Bidemi, who was carrying her one-month-old baby, Eniola, appealed to the Police that she should be allowed to continue living with the woman who she now works for, saying she fears for her life if she is made to go back to her father’s house.
Recalling her ordeal in the hands of her father, Bidemi said, ‘I have never met my mum but I was raised by my father’s mother until she passed away three years ago. My father took me to live with him in Suleja afterwards and from the very first night in his house, he forced himself on me’.
‘He warned me not to tell anybody when we realized that I was pregnant for him, and said that if anybody asked me who was responsible, I should say the father of my child ran away. When neighbors noticed the pregnancy that was the story I told them because I was afraid of my father’.
‘One morning, he brought a cup of water to me to swear an oath and said I should never tell the secret to anyone, adding that if I failed to keep the secret, it would result in my death’.
‘All along, I have been so scared to tell anyone. When I went into labour, he took me to General Hospital Suleja where I had my baby successfully on the 19th of December 2015’.
The girl stated further that after the birth of her baby, her father did not stop the abuse, but continued to force himself on her.
‘After the birth of my baby, my father still slept with me and I could not take it anymore so on the 4th of February, I ran away from home with my baby and sought help from Sade Adebayo’.
Adebayo corroborated the story saying Bidemi came to her for employment and when she asked her why she wanted to work with a one-month old baby on her back, she opened up and told her about the abuse by her own father.
‘I took her along to complain to the vigilante group in the area who took us to ‘A’ Division Police Station’, the elderly Adebayo said, adding that she has decided to take care of the young girl and her baby to spare her any further abuse in her father’s house.
The father, who owned up to the crime when questioned by the Police, was however speechless when he was asked why he did that to his daughter.
The Divisional Police Officer of ‘A’ Division and Chief Superintendent of Police , CSP, Francis Elkanem, confirmed the incident.
He added that ‘the case is on the verge of being transfered to the State Criminal Investigations Department SCID, in Minna, as soon as we are done with all our official formalities for transfer’.