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After court ruling, Abuja indigenes want elected mayoralty, full citizenship

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Forty-two years after the brutal assassination of the founder of Abuja, Gen. Murtala Mohammed, original inhabitants of Abuja, recently got some justice over representation in Nigeria’s federal executive council that sits in the land grabbed from them 42 years ago.

Today is the 42nd anniversary of the death of the original founder of Abuja, and ten days after the 42nd anniversary of the founding of Abuja on 3rd February 1976 when a national broadcast by Murtala proclaimed Abuja as Nigeria’s capital.

President of Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), Pastor Jeji Danladi, told The Guardian that the ministerial slot a Court of Appeal just guaranteed and endorsed for them is the least of their worries as it is their right according to the 1999 Constitution, Section 147, which states that every state must produce a minister.

He said the original inhabitants are more interested in being part of political leadership and governance in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). “OIDA should not have had to go to court because of ministerial slot in the first place because in the 36 states of Nigeria, every state can produce a president or a governor,” he said.

The federal capital was finally moved from Lagos to Abuja on December 12, 1991 by the then General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) military regime.

However, since the proclamation of Abuja as the nation’s capital, the natives have been agitating for political recognition and other rights. They have never been granted even as they have been struggling with integration and resettlement issues with federal authorities and the FCT administration.

After 42 years of diverse issues of discrimination and injustice with federal authorities for taking over their land for the purpose of building a capital, Abuja original inhabitants got some historic justice four weeks ago when the Court of Appeal on Monday January 15 declared in a landmark judgment that indigenous inhabitants of Abuja are indeed entitled to a ministerial representation in the Federal Executive Council as provided by the combined provisions of Sections 147 (3), 299, 14 (3) and 42 of 1999 Constitution.

The Court also declared that persistent denial and refusal of past and current presidents to appoint an indigene of FCT Abuja as a Minister in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) since May 1999 equates to a gross violation of the said constitutional right of the original natives of the land.

The court accordingly, directed the president to immediately make the said appointment while the sum of N100,000 was billed against the President and the Attorney General of the Federation as first and second respondents.

However, Danladi, President of OIDA, noted that though the court victory is a monumental victory for the indigenes, it has not addressed the weightier matter of the law on the other rights of the natives as citizens who also have rights to govern their state.

“The preoccupation should have been FCT indigene’s right to governance of the FCT, but what the Appeal Court has granted
is worth celebrating though we as citizens want much more.”

He continued: “The Nigerian government should let us have our own governors in FCT. Even with the judicial system in place, there is no proper executive government and there is no State Assembly. The National Assembly legislates for the FCT. This is absurd and inadequate.”

It was not clear at press time if the FCT authorities plan to mark the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of the founder, the late Murtala Mohammed since they did not mark the city’s foundation day ten days ago.

 


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