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Controversy trails new correctional facility as firm demands land compensation from NCoS

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
07 December 2022   |   5:17 am
The ongoing construction of a new correctional facility in Karshi, Abuja Municipal Area Council, has become entangled in a land dispute between the Federal Government and a quarry company, Nino Corporation Ltd.

NCoS

Stakeholders appeal to Buhari for intervention

The ongoing construction of a new correctional facility in Karshi, Abuja Municipal Area Council, has become entangled in a land dispute between the Federal Government and a quarry company, Nino Corporation Ltd.

The company claimed Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) illegally took possession of its business premises. It lamented crippling of its business operations, saying the site costs “multi-million naira investments built with bank loans and huge accumulated interests.”

Speaking through its Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Nino Abokhai, the company called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and rescue the investments allegedly destroyed by NCoS’ new correctional facility, in the interest of fairness and justice.

The expansive correctional facility, still under construction, is located in a remote community between Karu Council in Nasarawa State and Karshi, within Abuja Municipal Council Area.

Nino Corporation Ltd, which said it has been ordered to vacate its own property, is demanding compensation and time to relocate to another site.

The management also alleged that it was snubbed by NCoS authorities. Recently, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, in the company of Acting Comptroller-General of NCoS, Haliru Nababa, went on inspection tour of the project.

Investigation showed that neither the correctional service authorities nor the contractors showed any evidence to the firm to prove that NCoS obtained the land lawfully.

The disputed land is a solid minerals area under the control of the Federal Government, which allocated the quarry site to Nino Corporation Ltd, through the Federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Mineral Development.

Abokhai noted that Nino Corporation’s argument is in line with Section 1 of the Land Use Act of 1978, Sections 44 (3) of the 1999 Construction and Section 1 of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007.

He lamented that his request to be invited by NCoS or the Ministry of Interior was declined. He also alleged that Nababa directed his aide, Lawal Jangebe, to arrange an appointment with the management of the company to discuss the issue.

But when NCoS was contacted, Jangebe reportedly said his principal, Nababa, was yet to direct him on the next step on the issue.

The Ministry of Interior and NCoS are allegedly bullying the quarry company to vacate the land. According to Abokhai, “the operation and fortunes of the company have been crippled as a result of the trespass. This company was doing very well. We had about 70 employees and a big market has been adversely affected.

“The company is disposed to moving to another location but we need compensation to enable us do so. We need justice and fairness because my business is crumbling. The NCS invaded my business premises and scattered my huge investments.”

Alhaji Aminu Sani Inuwa, who represents Mining Entrepreneurship Stakeholders, said: “Some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees are sabotaging his economic, investment and the ease of doing business policies.

“How can you invade a business premises of a company that is doing its operations legally, and paying royalties and tax to government, and forcibly and illegally construct a correctional facility without compensation?”

He added: “Nino Corporation Ltd is an indigenous company and should be encouraged. Instead, some government officials prefer to give better treatment to foreign companies at the detriment of local companies.

“All the Chinese quarry sites are operating perfectly well in the country without any disruption or official harassment. Why should a government agency target indigenous company and cripple its operations and eventually kill it?

“We believe that NCoS was fully funded with N165 billion to acquire a good land to build a brand new correctional facility. But instead of legally acquiring its own land, it chose to use government power to illegally take over a company’s land.

“As stakeholders in the mining sector, we are calling the attention of Mr. President to urgently intervene in this matter. We demand justice and full compensation for Nino Corporation Ltd.”

But NCoS spokesman, Umar Abubakar, said there is no controversy whatsoever regarding the land on which the custodial centre is being built. According him, the land was allocated to the service by the Federal Capital Territory Development Authority (FCDA).

Responding via telephone, he said: “There is no such thing because our papers were obtained from the FCDA.

“The land in question does not belong to the claimant, (it’s) just that Nasarawa State government issued him a license to carry out quarry activities in the area, while Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) allocated the land with all necessary documents to NCoS.”