The Housing Development Advocacy Network (HDAN), a non-governmental organisation, has said land racketeering in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is putting huge investments by real estate developers at risk.
The Executive Director of HDAN, Festus Adebayo, who spoke with journalists in Abuja, therefore, called on the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, to declare a state of emergency on land in the territory.
He said, “The masterplan of the FCT is in disarray; it requires surgical operation, and the FCT minister must declare a state of emergency on the FCT urban planning system. So many damages have been done. The system is no more going in line with those who saw the vision of the FCT and gave the master plan.
“Firstly, the number one problem with the planning of FCT is that there is no detailed information on existing approved layouts – resulting in fake layouts overlapping it.
“This information, if it is made public, can enable investors to know the right information that will save them from falling victim to land racketeers.”
Adebayo alleged that staff of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) were colluding with the racketeers to destroy the masterplan and also fleece developers.
“Today, 70 per cent of cases in courts in the FCT are land related, which is why the real estate sector in the nation’s capital is at risk.
“We are calling on the government of the FCT to look into the areas where the planning system of the FCT has been abused,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Director, FCT Development Control Department, Mukhtar Usman Galadima, in a separate interview, warned that those that want to circumvent the development process would have their buildings removed while stiffer penalties would be applied like imprisonment to deter people from violating the process.
“Also, for any staff found to be involved in any scam, the civil service rules would apply, and this may lead to dismissal because some illegalities arise from compromise from within and we don’t compromise,” he said.
Galadima explained that the process of building in Abuja starts with obtaining valid title documents, and urged developers to go to the Development Control Department whenever they are ready to commence construction.
He said the department is currently in the process of simplifying the process of acquiring building approvals in such a way that all lands based on their districts would be put on its website, indicating the type of development required.
He said, “For commercial development, there are certain required documents, e.g. environmental impact assessment report, and if it is going for more than two suspended floors, there has to be a soil investigation report to tell us the type of soil and whether it has the carrying capacity and even the type of foundation that you’re going to have.
“When all this is done, there are teams that will visit the site and compare the documents and reports you submitted.
“Once we’re satisfied with these, we now look at the drawings viz-a-viz our requirements in the manual and compute what you are expected to pay to the government – the building plan processing fee – and when you pay that, we stamp your drawing and convey approval to you.”