Agency demolishes over 1, 000 buildings in Abuja
By Cyril Mbah, Abuja.
·Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have continued to live in fear and agony as the Abuja Development Control Agency intensified its operations in some communities since last week, pulling down more than 1,000 houses classified as illegal structures thereby rendering many families, including children, elderly and handicapped persons homeless.
The Abuja Environmental Protection and Control Agency operated at Mpape and Idu-Sabo located near the University of Abuja with five bulldozers leaving behind anguish and tears among residents in the communities by demolishing their houses even after local traditional leaders allegedly collected between N10, 000 to N20, 000 as bribe money to halt the demolition.
Many of the affected houses belong to non-indigenes and were pulled down intact with fittings such as zinc, metal doors and windows apart from personal properties because the clearance operations commenced early in the morning while some people were still sleeping and had no time to salvage their properties or remove home fittings.
The environmental agency justified the operation by claiming that it gave sufficient notice to residents to relocate adding that the operations were necessary to rid the city of criminal elements and antisocial activities such as drug business, kidnapping, car thefts and robbery incidents.
Speaking with newsmen, leader of the operation at Idu-Sabo, Ikhiaro Attah, who was flanked by armed security personnel, stated that demolition notices were issued to residents of the community three weeks ago but regretted that instead of moving out, the people contributed between N10, 000 and N20, 000 each household for local chiefs to use and bribe the demolition team to halt the operation.
He remarked that the affected houses were build without approval on drainage paths, waterways and areas designated as access roads stressing that the distortion of the Abuja Master Plan will not be allowed in any part of the territory.
He also stressed that the exercise was aimed at promoting sanity and the restoration of the Abuja Master Plan and was not targeted at any particular group or persons as alleged in several quarters.
Mr. Attah said many of the houses do not have approved building plans and were substandard in a manner that posed threats to residents.
“It is sad that people who I should have moved since the day we issued them quit notice and even extended the time by extra sixteen days refused to leave. Instead, they were donating money to logical chiefs to use in bribing us to halt the clearance operation.
“The residents told us themselves that every household contributed money and that the minimum was N5,000 which they gave to the local chiefs to bribe us. It is really painful and sad that sensible people allow themselves to be deceived by self seeking members of the society.
“The community leaders intervened but we will only halt the operation for two days to enable those who have yet been affected to evacuate whatever they can. We are supposed to operate in each community marked for demolition for three days and today is our first day here,” Attah remarked.