Friday, 9th June 2023

Again, FCTA’s bulldozers tear down AIT structure

By Anthony Otaru, Abuja
05 May 2019   |   4:10 am
Barely one month afterthe Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration demolished the Divine Wounds of Jesus Christ, an Orphanage...

Barely one month after the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration demolished the Divine Wounds of Jesus Christ, an Orphanage and Rehabilitation Homes located near Liberty Hotels, Arab Road, Kubwa, Abuja, rendering over 130 children homeless, it again unleashed its bulldozers against another corporate citizen, this time the African Independent Television.

Accompanied by a retinue of armed policemen last Tuesday, the FCTA tore down the entrance gatehouse and fence of AIT’s Headquarters at Gbaduma Hill, Asokoro, Abuja.

The gate, which was situated on the Ladi Lawal Lane, served as the major entrance to DAAR Communication Group, the parent company of AIT and Ray Power.

When The Guardian visited the station after the demolition, some staff of the outfit alleged that the demolition was “purely a political witch hunt.”

A senior staff of the company alleged: “President Muhammadu Buhari has been on the neck of the founder of this company, Chief Raymond Dokpesi. The Federal Government is worried that our boss is not supporting the All Progressives Congress (APC) and so they are looking for every means to cripple his companies that have created jobs for many.”

Another staff, who is a security officer told The Guardian that this is not the first time the FCT administration was tampering with AIT perimetre fence “for no just cause.”

He said: “When they came on Tuesday, they were boasting that the only fence that they would recognise is that which runs alongside the residential quarters of our founder’s house. It is so unfortunate that this is happening on a day that our chairman is away to Port Harcourt for a meeting.”

Reacting to the demolition, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also alleged that Buhari was using security agencies, especially, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to “witch hunt’’ members of the opposition.

HURIWA in a statement signed by HURIWA National Coordinator, and National Media Affairs Director, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and Miss Zainab Yusuf respectively, decried what it described as the “rising wave of Federal Government’s intolerance of political pluralism, press freedom and freedom of expression.”

The non-governmental organisation tasked Nigerians to “resist a rerun of full blown dictatorship through every conceivable legal mechanism.”

Also commenting on the demolition exercise, a property developer and Director of Elemue, Elemue & Co, Austin Ajoghenetuzemeh told The Guardian that there is nothing political about the demolition of part of the structure housing the outfit by the FCTA, stressing that it was aimed at creating access road for other plot owners in the vicinity.

According to him, as a stakeholder on land matters in the FCT for over 20 years, he is aware that Dokpesi legally obtained Gbaduma Hill from the FCT when Gen. Jeremiah Useni (rtd) was the FCT Minister, but that when Malam Nasir el-Rufai became the minister, AIT had issues with the administration over modification of the plan as the land in question was originally given out for public utility development, which adequately covers radio and television stations.

“But as time went by, AIT owners began the construction of residential buildings in the land, which automatically violated the original plan. This is the crux of the matter.”

He said the issue was later abandoned when Aliu Modibo Umar was made the FCT Minister, a development that gave ample opportunity to Dokpesi to apply for more plots of lands in the same environment, jerking it to a total of 18 hectares.

“After the FCDA discovered that AIT gate house had encroached on the access road to other people’s plots, a meeting was held at the instance of the minister and it was agreed that surveyors be brought in from both ends in order to correct the anomaly, but all attempt to amicably resolve the issue yielded no fruits hence the FCTA’s decision to do the needful,” Ajoghenetuzemeh stated.

But the FCTA confirmed that it removed only a portion of fence holding the security gate that encroached into other people’s property and blocked access to major roads in Asokoro District, Abuja.

Briefing journalists after the exercise, Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), Umar Shuaibu, explained that the action became necessary following DAAR Group’s refusal to adjust the fence inward to allow other property owners access to their homes.

He explained that the AMMC discussed with management of DAAR before the removal was carried out.

Umar said: “In November last year, the Management of DAAR Communications led by Chief Raymond Dokpesi paid a courtesy visit to the FCT Minister and they were received on his behalf by his Chief of Staff, Bashir Mai-Borno, who led the FCTA team made up of relevant directors and others in discussions.”

He explained that the purpose of the discussions was to resolve the protracted dispute regarding the actual size of land allocated to DAAR Communications, as against the area covered by their perimeter fence.

Also speaking, Director, Department of Development Control, Muktar Galadima, revealed that the piece of land belonging to AIT covers only 18 hectares, adding that the media outfit has merely submitted application for building approval, which his department was still processing.

He pointed out that at that level, it meant that any development on the land violated the FCTA’s development control rules.

Refuting insinuations that the removal was politically motivated, Galadima noted that the matter dates back to about 2007 and that the “precast fence and gate house, which blocked other people’s access were removed.”

The Guardian also learnt that, AIT extended its precast fence beyond its scope and encroached into other people’s land.

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