FCTA’S DEMOLITION OF ORPHANAGE HOME — Nigerian Pilot News
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FCTA’S DEMOLITION OF ORPHANAGE HOME

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Orphans reject FCTA offer to relocate them

Last week, residents of Kubwa, a suburban satellite town under Bwari Area Council in Abuja, experienced a most brazenly cruel official act that left soured taste in the mouth. What made the act most unfortunate and despicable was the fact that the targets were among the most vulnerable citizens in their midst.

An orphanage home – also containing a school and a church – known as Divine Words of Jesus Christ Church occupied by a widow and one hundred and fifty orphans including infants, was reduced to rubles by bulldozers of the Department of Development Control of the Federal Capital Territory Administration. This was inspite of the fact that the said property is still entangled in litigation.

The litigation is between the orphanage proprietress who is also the General Overseer of the Words of Jesus Christ Church, Bishop Victoria Ezemoka and her brother-in-law, Goddiful Ezegwo. Interestingly, as a face saving effort, the authorities in a joint press briefing with the owner of the affected property, said that the administration would provide temporary accommodation for the 150 children, who were left homeless by its atrocious demolition.

While we acknowledge the powers of Department of Development Control to demolish illegal structures, that legitimate authority must be exercised within the ambit of extant laws. In other words, due process (and in this special case) coupled with milk of human kindness should be observed. Besides, demolition of a property that is subject of litigation in a Federal Capital Territory High Court questions the principle of the rule of law. It also exemplifies abuse of office and power condemnable by all means.

It is also shameful that the legal team of the FCT Administration and Department of Development Control are singing discordant tunes over the reprehensible demolition of house of God, an orphanage and educational institution.

Beside the pathetic headlines by some national dailies over the ungodly act, the lawyer to the FCT Administration and the Director were, according to media reports, speaking across purposes. While FCT lawyer said “I’m surprised to hear about the demolition, I am not aware of it because the case is still in court and had not been decided”, the Director said “I have documents to justify the demolition”.

Recall that the Department of Development Control is a multi-disciplinary establishment created in March 2002 out of the then Land, Planning and Survey Department of FCDA and was given the primary responsibility of guiding, directing and controlling physical development within the Federal Capital Territory, a duty that was previously performed by the Department of Land Planning and Survey.

We found this development condemnable, especially when the legal option was not successfully and logically concluded.

Activities of Department of Development Control in the FCT have far reaching impact on the environment, health, safety and convenience of the people. However, this particular demolition is inimical to the aforesaid lofty objectives. It is on the strength of this that we call on the FCT Minister to investigate this reported act of illegality by the Department of Development Control so as to unravel the mysteries surrounding the repugnant act and sanction culpable officials to serve as deterrent, as well as forestall future occurrence.

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While we acknowledge the powers of Department of Development Control to demolish illegal structures, that legitimate authority must be exercised within the ambit of extant laws. In other words, due process should be observed. Besides, demolition of a property that is subject of litigation in a Federal Capital Territory High Court questions the principle of the rule of law. It also exemplifies abuse of office and power condemnable by all means

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