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Reps uncover N117.638b fraud in FCT land swap

The House of Representatives committee investigating the land swap initiative in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Tuesday, uncovered an unpaid N117.638 billion for 841 hectares of land allocated to Gwagwa Concession Company by the immediate past FCT Administration. The investigation by the Committee on Federal Capital Territory, FCT, is probing alleged malpractices in the award and allocation of land to companies and individuals under the Land Swap programme.

So far, only the sum of N350 million non-refundable fee was said to have been paid by the Gwagwa Concession Company to the FCT administration’s coffers, three years after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Also, the Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre (AIIC), which got 289.9 hectares of land was also said to have failed to pay the N350 million non-refundable fee in contravention of the terms of agreement between the FCT administration and investors. Sani Yakubu, Head of Business Development for AIIC, affirmed this at the opening of investigative public hearing on the alleged malpractices associated with the allocation of land to 25 investors under the Land Swap scheme of the past administration.

The Committee chaired by Hon. Herman Hembe, expressed concern over the non-remittance of the sum of N350 million by Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre (AIIC) for the acquisition of 289.9 hectares of land. In its submission to the FCT Committee, the AIIC however explained that the company was still seeking for credible investors that would buy into the scheme for the development of the allocated land. Yakubu, who admitted that the company was given the allocation under the Land Swap programme, said: “We did accept the offer but we did not have the document that said so.” Reacting, immediate past FCT minister, Bala Mohammed, however noted that the administration did not engage the AIIC.

Mohammed, who pioneered the Land Swap Programme explained that the initiative was geared towards fast-tracking the development of various districts across the nation’s capital city, stressing that only N2 billion has so far been invested by government for the development of 10 districts. Chairman of the Committee, Herman Hembe, who pledged the resolve of the Committee to be fair and balanced, said they would be guided by the submissions received in the bid to determine if the FCT followed due process as provided by the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Land Use Act.

”Having established the legality of our actions herein, accordingly, the Committee set out to do the following to ensure that principles of fairness, priority and transparency are entrenched in the process. ”We requested from Abuja Infrastructure Investment Centre all relevant information and documents related to the Land Swap programme. We also requested some information from investors in the programme and have received as much communication on the matter as both the AIIC and investors showed a willingness to supply.

”We viewed the provisions of the Land Use Act, in relationships with the Land Swap programme to determine that the programme was not in conflict with the Act. We sought to identify the ground rules set by the FCT through the AIIC for the conduct of the Land Swap programme were followed by the FCT itself and that the FCT ensured that the investors also followed the said rules.,”

Hembe said. While declaring the investigative public hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara noted that the facts available to the House, showed that under the Land Swap policy, government “set out to make up for the deficits in financing the development of the district’s by engaging private developers and investors to fund the development of these districts in the interest of the people of FCT and Nigerian as a whole.”

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