Nigerians, FCTA differ over alleged land racketeering in Abuja

…Authorities insist approvals based on availability

…Say every Nigerian above 18 qualified to apply

Nigerians, particularly residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have called on its minister to look into the modalities for allocating land in the area as they expressed doubt about the transparency of the system.

Speaking with Daily Times, some residents lamented that despite following due process in applying for land as required by law, years after, nothing has been heard on the matter.

They alleged that those in the corridors of power have been making it impossible for ordinary Nigerians to secure allocation from the FCT Administration (FCTA).

Some believe that the lands in the FCT are being allocated to friends, relations and cronies who in turn sell them at very high amounts to those interested, thereby making millions, even billions of Naira from the transactions.

Mr. Ben Eze, a resident of Nyanya, said: “There is no point applying for land in FCT. If you have money, just look for land anywhere and buy but make sure you do verification because even if you apply it might take years as there are many applications that yet to be treated.”

Joshua Bulus, a resident of the same FCT suburb, said: “All my friends that applied since over two years ago, none of them have gotten an allocation.

So, why should I go ahead to apply when I know how it will end. They will keep telling you that there is no land yet they keep allocating to their friends and relatives.”

Chimezie Okafor, a businessman residing in Apo district of the FCT, said: “I lost hope in that thing (land allocation). If you don’t know people within the corridors of power, just forget about it.”

Okafor explained that he applied some years back and after waiting several years for the approval in vain, he had no option than to buy a plot through an estate developer at a very exorbitant rate to build his house.

Kayode Alabi, a resident of Wuse, said: “It may be true that every Nigerian is qualified to apply but let me tell you, securing approval is something else.

They will keep telling you that there is no plot but if you drive around town, you will discover so many lands lying fallow with no development of any kind which is not supposed to be so. If you trace the owners of those lands, you will discover a name among the powers-that- be.”

On the contrary, Mr Chika Kalu, an entrepreneur residing in Gwarimpa District, said he got his land allocation without any stress.

He commended the FCT minister for reforming the land administration system to ensure that all applicants are treated fairly with no special preference to a section of Nigerians.

However, in an interview with Daily Times, the FCTA Director of Lands Administration, Alhaji Adamu Jibrin, dismissed the allegations, explaining that allocations are strictly based on availability.

Jibrin explained that every Nigerian above the age of 18 is qualified to apply and be given land just as he stressed that the allocation by the minister is subject to availability.

He stressed  that the system had been sanitised over time to check illegalities such as land racketeering, allocating to only a section of Nigerians as well as multiple allocation of the same plot.

In addition, Jibrin disclosed that as part of measures to rid the system of any fraudulent activities, the offer letter and the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is now embedded with security features.

He warned against buying from traditional rulers and individuals except where due diligence has been done such as verifying from the Department of Lands Administration to ensure that the seller is the genuine allottee. This is to avoid buying land from fraudsters which will attract dire consequences.

According to Jibrin, for an individual to acquire land in FCT, “the applicant is expected to pick an application form from the Department of Land Administration domiciled in Abuja Geographical Information Systems (AGIS).

Complete the form and make a payment of N100,000 in a designated bank written on the application form. After payment, a teller will be issued to you which will be submitted to AGIS who will in turn issue a receipt.

“The form after being completed is to be accompanied by some necessary documents such as the data page of the international passport of the applicant, two passport-size photographs, tax clearance (in case of civil servant, 3 months pay slip) and the age declaration of the applicant. The documents attached with the completed form as well as the evidence of payment (bank teller) are to be submitted to AGIS.

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“When we key it into our database and acknowledgment which will contain the file number of the applicant, the purpose for which the application is being made and some vital information will be issued to the applicant.

Plots are allocated in a layout based on the designation of the Abuja Master Plan. So, based on the availability of plots within the layout, it will link the file number that an application has opened to a plot.

Then we will seek the minister’s approval. If the minister approves, that’s when we can issue an offer letter to the applicant  now an allottee.”

Advising against applying for land through a third party, he stressed that only the minister has the constitutional powers to allocate land to anyone in the nation’s capital.

He also responded to concerns that while many Nigerians are yet to get an allocation despite applying through the approved channel, some have multiple offers.

The Director said: “We don’t want to restrict you if you have the capacity. We don’t give lands to speculators. It’s for development to increase the economic activities in the city.

In most cases, there are places that have provided infrastructure and it’s wrong to allow a plot to lay fallow when the area has been serviced. If the government spends money to provide infrastructures, then we should utilise the facilities.”

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