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Police convert abandoned Niger estate to barracks

The Niger State-owned Zuma Housing Estate located on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway is now wearing the Nigeria Police colours. The transformation was noticed recently after many…

The Niger State-owned Zuma Housing Estate located on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway is now wearing the Nigeria Police colours.

The transformation was noticed recently after many years of abandonment of the structure by the state government.

The estate was built by the administration of a former governor of the state, late Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure, in an effort to provide affordable accommodation for the people of the state.  It comprises of hundreds of units of two and three bedroom bungalows.

The project, which had reached 80 percent completion was abandoned by the contractor, following the exit of the administration.

Fence of the estate, now barracks

Work on the estate was stalled by bureaucratic bottlenecks and intrigues fuelled by contending interests, it was gathered.

The succeeding government, after assessing the facility and evaluating funds needed for its completion, decided to dispose of it altogether. The state government then opened bidding for interested buyers to come forward with offers in 2009, but could not seal the deal owing to the failure of organisations that had earlier showed interest to come forward.

Daily Trust learnt that in 2013, the administration approved the sale of the estate in agreement with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and a private company. The then commissioner of Land and Housing, Dr Peter Sarki, had told newsmen that FMBN had earlier agreed to give N639.7 million in three tranches of 40 per cent first release and 30 per cent each in two subsequent releases.

He said the bank released N255.9 million and Niger State government gave N100 million to a private company through the Urban Development Board, adding, however, that only 90 of the 250 housing units were completed.

According to him, the N255.9 million released by the bank had yielded up to N300 million interest, forcing the parties to sell off to a private company to recover their investment. He explained that under the new arrangement, the state government would be refunded N110 million, the private company N70 million and the bank N255.9 million. He also revealed that the bank had decided to forgo the N300 million interest in order to ensure quick recovery of its initial loan for the project.

It was learnt that Aso Savings and Loans later emerged buyer of the estate having been able to cough out the initial deposit agreed on. According to the agreement, the state government agreed with the buyer that individuals who made commitment in acquiring houses in the estate would have their interest protected by the new owners.

Our correspondent learnt that 50 people had paid fully for houses, while others made deposits of different sums.

“We allocated to about 50 people that paid in full and about 66 people had made some deposits for the houses as it was under mortgage arrangement.

“The state executive council meeting approved that whoever wants to buy the site, it’s agreed among other conditions, that the 50 or so who have fully paid their money will be allowed to retain their houses, except if they don’t want, to while the 66 others that made deposits will have their money refunded,” Sarki had said.

With the supposed sale of the estate to the Nigeria Police by Aso Savings and Loans, the people’s fate now hangs in the balance.

Our reporters observed that the facility is undergoing renovation and facelift. It was also observed that some policemen are already living in the facility, now referred to as police barracks.

Major renovations made include re-roofing, new windows, doors, repainting of the buildings and the gate with the colours and logo of the Nigeria Police Force.

Some civilians residing in the facility expressed concern about the uncertainty of their future in the estate. While some have expressed interest to remain in the facility, others opted for compensation to enable them relocate.

Some of them who spoke to Daily Trust faulted the exercise, saying it was a big blow to the citizens of the state who lived in the axis. One of them who spoke in confidence described the state government’s action as anti-workers and the people.

They alleged that those who contributed to the scheme were not consulted before the decision to privatise the facility was taken.

“While the project was going on, the state Ministry of Works and Housing was ordered to start collecting money from interested buyers, and they went ahead to register people beyond the available housing units. And when the privatization deal was being sealed, the then government promised to compensate those who committed money to it but up till this moment the compensation has not been paid,” one of them lamented.

An occupant who has relocated said it was on one faithful day that some officers of the Nigeria Police Force came and ejected all of them and took over the place which they have been living in for quite some years.

He said the houses had been abandoned for a long period of time and some of them saw it as an opportunity to reside in them without paying a dime.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in state, DSP Mohammed Dan-Ina Abubakar asked for more time to reach out to the appropriate officers who handle such matters. Also, the Public Relations Officer in the state Ministry of Land and Housing Malama Sadiya Imam asked for more time to confirm the development.


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