Molly Kilete, Abuja.
The Nigerian Army has denied allegation leveled against it by some indigenes of Warri, Delta State, that it illegally took over their land.
Director, Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu, who made this known, said contrary to the claim, its land in Warri was rightfully acquired in 1974.
He also said that the land was officially surveyed in 1976, with survey plan number WA 387.
Gen. Chukwu who made this known in a state issued in Abuja, said that the army has decided to set the records straight following the allegation by a Warri-based Mr. Victor Otomiebo, who, during Channels Television’s popular morning programme, Sunrise, last Saturday, accused it of forcefully taking over land belonging to people.
The business man had also during the programme, alleged threatened to lead a group to destroy economic plants on the land.
Chukwu however said the army authorities has taken note of the threat and was ready to respond appropriately to it, even as he maintained that the land which the service was being accused of was legally acquired.
The army spokesman in the statement made available to Daily Sun in Abuja said the Nigerian Army views the threat by some miscreants to commence the destruction of economic infrastructure in the land as an affront which will be responded to accordingly.
To this end, it has given Mr. Otomiebo “Seven days to either produce evidences to substantiate his allegations or be ready to face the Nigerian Army in the court of law.”
The statement reads, “The attention of the Nigerian Army (NA) has been drawn to some allegations made against the NA and the person of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai during a popular morning programme “SUNRISE” on Channels Television Saturday 2 June 2018.
“Nigerian Army would not want to join issues with the Presenter or the Anchor, it has to state its position in relation to some spurious and complete fallacy by one Mr. Victor Otomiebo and wish to state as follows:
“b. The Nigerian Army land in Warri was acquired in 1974. It was officially surveyed in 1976, with survey plan number WA 387.
“b. The land covers an area of 2063 hectares, with C of O issued by Delta State Govt on 25 February 1994.
“c. The land was acquired to build a barracks, which consists of accommodation areas, office areas and training areas. In line with military traditions, a commercial area, called Mammy market was also established to provide easy access to goods and commodities to the barracks community. The mammy market enables the troops to procure household consumables without having to abandon their duty posts to proceed to markets in the main town, which are often far off from the barracks areas.
“d. Some portions of the land around the mammy market area was allocated for the development of post service housing estate. The concept of the post service housing estate was to provide affordable houses for personnel on retirement. Most of the beneficiaries are military personnel and civilians from Delta State.
“e. The Nigerian Army land has been subjected to severe encroachment over the years and about 500 hectares have been occupied by encroachers from the adjoining communities. Indeed, the NA had not made efforts to recover the encroached portions, but has only strived to prevent further encroachments.
“f. The Nigerian Army has never encroached into any other land or any adjoining. All activities and developments by the Nigerian Army have been within the acquired hectares, with authentic documents.
“The Nigerian Army Properties Limited (NAPL) entered into collaboration with Chevron Employers Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Ltd, for housing development in a portion of the land allocated for post service estate. The objective of the collaboration was to facilitate infrastructural development in the post service estate, as well as assistance to the Nigerian Army in reclamation of the swampy portions of the Nigerian Army land. The collaboration was also meant to facilitate cohabitation among military and civilians in the estate.
“That the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai is in no way involved with the owners of whatever company that “was formed to sell lands to civilians with 50 million shares”.
“That nobody is selling the land to civilians between 15-N17 million.
“That at no time did the NA direct soldiers’ wives to harvest crops on the land.
” That no one bearing the name Colonel Taiwo exists as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Chief of Army Staff, not to talk of originating a letter on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff.
” That the Chief of Army Staff has no stalls or any kind of property in the said Mammy Market.
“That the Nigerian Army is not aware of any negotiation with any group that led to the withdrawal of a case in court to facilitate a resolution of the issues in question by a member of the House of Representatives.
“That the Nigerian Army views the threat by some miscreants to commence the destruction of economic infrastructure in the land as an afront which will be responded to accordingly.
“That by this release, the said Mr Victor Otomiebo is given 7 days to either produce evidences to substantiate his allegations or be ready to face the Nigerian Army in the court of law.”