On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello, ordered the demolition of a property belonging to the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, located in Mabushi District of Abuja metropolis.
Acting through the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), the FCT minister explained that FCT demolished the property because the structure contravened development control regulations.
AMMC officials moved in bulldozers and excavators to demolish the sprawling property known as A. Aruera Reachout Foundation/Women for Change Development Initiative, Mabushi. They did not stop there. They equally demolished a multi-purpose hall under construction, along with what they claimed were illegal structures behind the main building for abuse of land use, because “it was a green area.”
AMMC coordinator, Umar Shuiabu, explained that the former First Lady’s building in Mabushi and all the other structures removed by his agency in Wuse II were illegal ones.
He said: “If they had approval, we would not have been there. Everyone must have approval before commencing any development in the FCT. When our officials go on inspection and discover that a structure is being put up, they would request to know whether there has been an approval prior to commencement of the development or not.
“It is because of this that we give three sets of approvals, one is to be on the site, another should be with the owner and the other in our file at the Development Control department, so that whenever we go for inspection and require building plan approval, it should be handy.
“Abuja is a planned city so, if we do not control the development in the city, we would not have met it the way it is today. Abuja is planned to be a garden city, meaning that there are some areas that we reserve for green development so we won’t allow desecration of whatever manner.
“If we had been leaving illegal developments within the city, this city would have been inhabitable for people. Abuja is the pride of the nation, so we want to maintain a beautiful city for ourselves.”
The move to demolish Patience’s property did not start today. In November, the FCT Administration marked it for possible demolition.
Authorities in Development Control had also tried then to explain that the multi-billion naira property was standing in contravention of development control laws in the FCT, as it was sitting on a green area.
One of the directors who spoke to Daily Sun then under anonymity, had explained that: “We have served them notice to stop further development of the property and produce necessary approvals within six days before resuming work, failure to do so, we will be left with no option but to remove the whole property.”
Referring to the former First Lady’s property, the director said: “That place is a green area, and the property on it looks like a hotel. And you can imaging the deceit there; the signboard outside the property indicates that it is a foundation or an NGO home (A. Aruera Reachout Foundation/Women for Change and Development Initiative), but the real property inside is something else.”
There are questions that pundits and residents are asking, but the FCT Administration is turning a deaf hear and maintaining stoic silence on the issue.
The said plot was obviously allocated to the former First Lady by Bala Mohammed, ex-minister of the FCT. Until the allocation, the place was a green area and there was a road leading to estates in the district. As soon as the plot was allocated, the road was reportedly removed and, in no time, a sprawling building surfaced.
That was not the only green area allocated by the former minister. A green area in Maitama was allocated to top government officials by the former FCT minister. As of today, major construction works are still ongoing, despite a “stop-work” order issued by the Senate in 2016.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on FCT, Dino Melaye, had at a press conference in 2016 ordered the FCT Minister, Bello, to demolish illegal structures erected in green areas, with special focus on Maitama.
As of today, the minister has not carried out that order. Upon assumption of office, Bello said he was aware of uncompleted buildings in Abuja used for nefarious activities. He claimed that the total number was about 500.
Giving an account of his stewardship in 2016, the FCT minister then promised that the names of owners of the uncompleted buildings were going to be published within six months and that the buildings would be demolished.
However, two years after that promise, no single building allegedly used by kidnappers and other criminal elements has been demolished by the FCT Administration since 2015.
In many parts of Abuja metropolis, people have converted private residences into commercial offices. Offices have been converted into private residences and the FCT Minister has not ordered bulldozers to demolish the buildings.
Pundits are, therefore, asking if the demolition of Patience’s property was a political move by the FCT Administration, since there are similar buildings within the territory that have violated the master plan of the city.
There are also questions regarding the speed at which the FCT Administration quickly mobilised to site to effect the demolition, despite the presence of similar demolition notices served on many buildings in Abuja.
Since Bello has not uttered the first word since the demolition, Nigerians and residents of Abuja would have to wait. The former First Lady is yet to react since the exercise took place. For now, time would tell, as events unfold.