Molly Kilete, Abuja, with agency report
Aggrieved protesters blocked the convoy of Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, along Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Expressway, in Abuja, yesterday morning, to demand the Presidency’s intervention in alleged land grabbing in the Federal Capital Territory.
The vice-president was heading to the airport when his convoy ran into a barricade at Goza village axis of the road.
Residents of Gbagyi village had converged on the spot, which is the major road connecting the airport to the city, to protest alleged invasion of their land by the military.
Osinbajo’s security aides tried to appease the protesters but failed. This forced Osinbajo to alight from his car.
Some of the protesters hailed his action as he approached them.
Osinbajo sued for calm, and assured the protesters that their grievances would be addressed.
Apparently convinced by his intervention, the people allowed his convoy to pass but denied access to other vehicles.
Thereafter, the Chief Of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, denied their allegations.
Buratai spoke at the foundation-laying ceremony for the construction of the Army Command Estate and Headquarters Directorate of Army Legal Services, at Giri, along the Nnamdi Azikiwe international Airport Road, where he advised the protesting youths not to protest anymore as their actions would not yield result.
Buratai, who said the estate land was allocated to the army in 1979, said the army got its Certificate of Occupancy that same year and that all the documents of the land were with the Abuja Geographical Information Service of the FCT.
“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.
“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.”
Buratai explained further that, “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, duly applied for the re-certification.”
He advised those alleging the army grabbed their land to channel to their complaints to the appropriate quarters rather than protesting and barricading highways.
“The protesters should not allow themselves to be deceived and take the laws into their hands.”
To ensure trespassers do not encroach on the 4,000 hectares of land, the army has dug trenches around the entire area and commenced construction of office and residential accommodation, to accommodate the newly-established headquarters of Army Aviation Corps, Women Corps, Space Command, as well as officers and soldiers quarters, the Nigerian army Farms and Ranches Limited; among other establishments of the army.