…FG to meet village heads to resolve crisis
…Buratai reacts, says Army legally acquired land in FCT
…Andrew Orolua, Abuja with agency report
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday averted what could have turned out to be a bloody civil unrest after his official convoy was blocked by protesting Gbagi youths along the Umaru Yar’Adua Expressway in Abuja.
Osinbajo, who was bound for Ekiti State for the launch of the National Home Grown School Feeding scheme, ran into the protesters after they had barricaded the road and in a statesman like disposition, alighted from his official car to assuage the protesters and listen to their grievances.
This action by the vice president endeared him to the youths who on recognising him began chanting his name.
The protesters made up mainly of young men and some women had blocked the expressway to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at Gossa Village, protesting the alleged forceful take-over of their lands by the military.
The protesting youths appealed to Osinbajo to intervene in the forceful take-over by the military and assist them recover their ancestral lands.
Responding to their plea, the Vice President assured them that he would meet with the village leaders to find a lasting solution to the problem at hand and urged the youths to seek more diplomatic ways of solving issues.
He assured them that the Buhari administration is dedicated to the people and that the dividends of democracy will be enjoyed by all.
Apologising for their actions, the protesters said if they had known that the Vice President was going to ply the road, they would not have acted in the manner they did.
Thereafter, the youths while chanting his name made way for the convoy to proceed to the airport.
Speaking to the media, a protester, who craved anonymity, praised Prof. Osinbajo for his humane nature, adding that the Vice President understands and relates well with the plight of ordinary Nigerians.
“Imagine that all Nigerian politicians are like Osinbajo, this country would have succeeded since the 70s. He came down from his vehicle and he addressed us; in fact, we were happy that he accorded us so much respect,” he said.
However, in a swift reaction, the Nigerian Army said it legally acquired its landed property in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and advised indigenes protesting alleged land grab to channel their complaints to the appropriate quarters.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, stated this on Tuesday in reaction to protest by some indigenes, who barricaded the Airport road, alleging the army grabbed their land.
Buratai spoke at the foundation laying ceremony for construction of the “Army Command Estate and Headquarters, Directorate of Army Legal Services’’ at Muhammadu Buhari Cantonment at Giri on the Airport Road, Abuja.
He said their action would not yield any result.
“This particular estate (land) was granted to the Nigerian army in 1979.
“However, we got the official allocation with the Right of Occupancy (C of O) in 1997 by the Federal Capital Administration.
“In 2011, when all land in the territory were revoked and owners of land were directed to re-certify their land, the Nigerian army along with other services, Navy and Air Force, we duly apply for the re-certification.
“We paid the dues that was meant for the re-certification and got our acknowledgment. That is to say that we have legally and timely certified this particular land,’’ Buratai said.
He said that all the documents of the land were with the Abuja Geographical Information Service – AGIS, of the FCT.
“So, any move to disrupt our activities here (ongoing construction work on the land) is going to be fruitless. We have all the legal backing,’’ the army chief said.
Buratai advised those alleging the army grabbed their land to channel to their complaint to the appropriate quarters rather than protesting and barricading highways.
“They – protesters, should not allow themselves to be deceived and take the laws into their hands,’’ he said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that construction of structures are already ongoing in the over 4,000 hectares of land to accommodate newly established Headquarters of Army Aviation corps, Women corps, Space Command, as well as officers and soldiers quarters.
Also located in the land is headquarters of the Nigerian army’s Farms and Ranches Ltd.
A coalition of FCT indigenous associations had recently been accusing the army of grabbing their land and protested to the National Assembly over the issue.
They had also protested to the office of the Minister of FCT, calling for his intervention.
They alleged that the army wanted to collect their land located at Zuba, Iddo, Sabo and Tuga Maje, all on Airport Road.
NAN also reports that Buratai used the occasion to charge officers and men on the need to make sure the country was kept safe and secured, and continued support for the administration.
He reminded them of the strategic importance of the military in democratic dispensation, adding that they “must defend democracy.’’
“We are much, much better in democracy than any other system. We must ensure that we perform our constitutional responsibilities with all the seriousness it deserves.
“We must all ensure that all our ongoing operations are stepped up.
“The insecurity that we are facing in the North East and other parts of the country require more initiative and require us to think of the box to get the right solution,’’ he said.