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page 39 Demolition: Sabo Iddo residents given 1 month to vacate settlement By Mustapha Suleiman In order to make Abuja buildings conform to the city`s…

page 39

Demolition: Sabo Iddo residents given 1 month to vacate settlement

By Mustapha Suleiman

In order to make Abuja buildings conform to the city`s original master plan, the FCTA, through the department of Development Control had often embarked on demolition of buildings and structures in the territory.

Besides demolitions, buildings that violate building standards or erected where they were not supposed to be are sealed off.

While in some cases, buildings are demolished for failing integrity test or sealed off for integrity test to be conducted on them as a precautionary action to avert collapse of buildings.

Notwithstanding the reasons government always give to justify demolition of structures, some people have divergent views on demolition of buildings that residents spent their hard earned savings to build by the FCTA. This people argued that, the FCTA ought to have through proper monitoring and regulations, prevented such buildings from springing up in the first place, rather than wait until people completed them and even settled in them.

One of the newest areas awaiting the bulldozers of the Development Control department of the FCTA are the residents of Sabo Iddo Village along airport road.

The FCT, Wednesday, issued them one month notice to voluntarily leave the community or face the FCT Development Control Department’s bulldozers.

To show its level of seriousness over the impending demolition of the community, the Development Control officials, accompanied by a combined team of armed policemen and soldiers stormed the community to inform the residents and the community head, Alkali Ibrahim, of the its decision to demolish buildings standing on a large expanse of land in the community.

Deputy Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, Kuchume S. Bawa, who led the team told the community that the settlement was illegally and expanding within the precinct of the University of Abuja permanent site.

He vowed that the settlement would be totally demolished as it is located within the area allocated for university as well as experiencing accelerated illegal expansion.

He said at the expiration of the one month removal notice, issued to enable the concerned settlers vacate the place voluntarily, officials of the Department would return to the community to carry out intensive marking of houses in the village.

He said that, though the government adopted dialogue method in its effort to regulate the illegal existence and expansion of the settlement, but issuance of removal notice and or actual removal of such illegal development have been part of the routine function of the Department, under the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC).

He stressed that the Department instead of storming the community with its bulldozers to enforce removal of the illegal structures on the university land, the officials chose to visit the area to inform the people concerned to voluntarily leave the place within the given period, so as to avoid loss of any kind.

“Before, we just moved in and start carrying out removal of illegal structures, but now that is not what we do; we first dialogue with the people concerned, so that we will now know what their problems are and the best strategies to be used to remove the illegal structures,” he said.

As soon the development control informed the community of the one month notice to vacate the area, fear and despair engulfed the residents. The village said to be occupied by about 300 thousand indigenous Gbagyi natives of Abuja and other settlers.

Daily Trust gathered that majority of the Sabo Iddo settlers are predominately famers, artisans and businessmen.

The residents expressed, as they expressed their shock and disbelief over the demolition notice, especially as it carries ` one month` notice.’

Chief of Sabo Iddo Community, Yakubu Musa Alkali, however, said that the claim of the settlement is illegal is untrue and does not hold water, as the place has been in existence for a very long time.

He said that the area is their ancestral land and he was born in the community and had seen the development of FCT to what it is today without anybody threatening to displace them.

He said that they were not informed of any demolition notice until Wednesday when they saw the development control officials even as he said that normal procedures were not followed by the department`s officials.

“The chief of Garki ought to be communicated to and then the district head of Iddo who will then briefed me of the government’s intentions. That wasn’t done,” he said.

Alkali said that in his position as the ward head, he has no intention of taking up the matter with the FCTA as the district head who he is directly under would take the next line of action in that regard.

The community head said that it wasn’t only Sabo Iddo that is said to exist within the land allocated to the University of Abuja, wondering why the community was the only one singled out for demolition at shortest notice ever, adding that the population there is too large to be given a month quit notice.

Alkali, however appealed to the government re- consider its decision to demolish their houses, saying his people have no other place to go if they are forced out of the community.

When Daily Trust asked some of the residents on whether they would comply with the Development Control directive, they clearly said that their fate rests squarely in the hands of the ward head, whom they hope would seek justice for them.

A resident, Roseline Musa, who looked dejected and worried, said that the she has been living in the community for some years now and would find it difficult to cope if they were forced out.

“I live here with my two children. I also engage in petty business here. They should please leave us alone because we are managing ourselves here and have always remained law-abiding.”

Daily Trust observed many houses undergoing construction and farmlands competing for space in the community.

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