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Concerns over illegal occupation of abandoned buildings in Abuja

There are growing security concerns in Abuja over the way criminal elements are converting uncompleted buildings into their homes and hiding places in the Federal…

There are growing security concerns in Abuja over the way criminal elements are converting uncompleted buildings into their homes and hiding places in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and environs.

Daily Trust observes that some locations both in the city centre and satellite towns of the FCT are currently occupied by unknown people, which is currently raising concerns among residents of the areas.

A visit to some locations in the territory by this reporter revealed that most of these uncompleted buildings have been unoccupied for many years and left unattended to, making it easy for all manner of people to move in and occupy them.

A resident of Guzape extension who simply identified himself as Yinka told Daily Trust that the area is becoming scary for residents who mostly reside in estates in the area.

“You know Guzape is now like the new Maitama because we have a lot of estates under construction and some of these buildings are left as carcasses for a very long time and before you know it, you will start noticing unknown faces in the neighbourhood.

“Gradually you will see that they are already living there, cooking there and bathing inside these uncompleted buildings and you will never see the owners of the buildings coming around,” he said.

He added that “one of his neighbours was almost robbed while coming out for early morning jogging in the neighbourhood and they suspected that it could be the miscreants occupying the uncompleted buildings,”

Also, one resident of Utako, Abdul Kabir, told this reporter that they have reported suspicious activities of miscreants occupying uncompleted buildings but nothing has been done by the authorities.

“This issue did not start today. It has been there for a very long time. We have reported the issue and the security authorities will conduct an operation and send them away but after some time the miscreants will return.

“Since 2014, almost 10 years ago now, these guys have been moving from one uncompleted building to another and you can’t say what they are doing there,” he said.

Also in Kubwa, Martha Musa, a resident who spoke to Daily Trust said residents are beginning to suspect that incidences of burgling of houses are carried out by some of the illegal occupants.

“Towards the end of last year, there were rising cases of burgling and here we have so many buildings occupied by people who you can’t say who they are. People are becoming concerned and we have already spoken to the community leader for action,” she said.

There should be policy stipulating building timeframe – Expert

Reacting to the development, the immediate past president of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Aliyu Wamakko, said it is high time the government came up with a policy on building construction in which there will be a caveat indicating the expected time of completion of the project.

He added that appropriate penalties should be meted out to any defaulter of the stipulated timeframe, most likely adding “levy or fine” as penalty.

According to him, formulating such a policy would also enable the government to make more revenue and bridge the gap between when a building project commences and when it will be completed.

“There should be some sort of levy on anybody who has started a building and abandoning it. They should be given two or three years, depending on the nature of the building project. It is engineers who know everything about a project, so they can easily give you a time frame that will be okay for you to complete that building before approval is being sought.

“If the approval is given, there should be a clause that will indicate when you are expected to finish the building project. It should attract a levy each year payable if you abandon the building,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration had earlier announced plans to tackle the rising cases of abandoned buildings in the territory.

Statistics from the FCTA agency said there were about 460 abandoned or uncompleted buildings in the FCT, with security experts warning that such buildings could be serving as havens for terrorists and kidnappers, among others.

Consequently, the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, said, “We discovered that most of the areas where they (criminals) stay are shanties and uncompleted buildings, and that is why we say we cannot allow these uncompleted buildings where criminals have made their places of abode. Bring down all these uncompleted buildings that have turned into shanties, and they will have nowhere to hide.”

“Just last week, we set up a task force on those identified areas that we have borders with and one chance. Joint security task forces, including the SSS, the police, the army, and the navy, have identified the way they will operate and we will fish them out and demolish those structures,” he added.


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