I cannot forget the last demolition in 2006. I lost everything including my hotel, and the only thing left was my motor cycle
For fear that their houses may be demolished any moment, residents of Tasha 1 and one Man village, a settlements in Gwagwa community of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), hardly sleep with their eyes closed for some time now.
The plan to demolish the houses was allegedly made by officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). Inside Abuja observed that the residents only became aware of the looming selective demolition exercise in the area, last week when some indigenous youth warned people that they are coming for demolition of houses on the lands, purportedly allocated to an undisclosed Estate Developer.
Inside Abuja further gathered that some residents of the area mobilized themselves and went to a radio station in Mpape, where they met with Ahmed Isa, the President of Brekete Family (a radio call-in programme that gives ‘voice to the voiceless’), to intervene in the matter.
One of the residents, Clara Williams said “I heard of the demolition plan from the workers doing some renovation work in my apartment, that they were asked to stop work by some youths, that they are coming for demolition.
Immediately I called Aliyu (the guy that sold the land to me), and he confirmed that the lands have been sold to an Estate Developer.
She further stated that they were informed that Hakimi (District Head) of Gwagwa community, Shaibu Mohammed Gwagwa and his cabinet members were coming to brief residents on the alleged move to carry out selective removal of structures in the area.
“On getting the news, most of us stayed back and did not go to work, and after several hours of waiting, the Hakimi showed up in company of his Secretary, one Zakare and a guy who claimed to be a staff of Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
“We thought they came to address us on the rumoured selective demolition, but they were busy pointing where the exercise will start from; we then summoned courage and asked the Hakimi what was happening and whether the rumour we heard are true.
She noted that the Hakimi told them (residents) that what they are hearing was no rumours; as the government has come to reclaim their lands.
She said when they queried further, someone from the Hakimi’s camp, presented himself as a staff of FCDA, and brought out a rumpled paper (purported to be a demolition notice) from his office.
“But suspecting a trick, we further demanded for his ID card, it was at that point he knew the people cannot be easily cowed, he then used the ‘letter’ to cover his face trying to avoid been captured by residents with camera phone.
“We also went to the Human Rights Commission Headquarters, in Maitama, where we registered our complain and they promised to assist with some lawyers, who have been handling similar demolition cases.
“From there, we went to the popular Human rights activist, Barr. Maxwell Opara, who advises we get a court injunction as fast as possible, so as not to fall victim of what befell the residents of old Karmo.”
The exercise, according to the chairman, Tasha 1/One Man Village Landlord association, Francis Egbo, will displace thousands of inhabitants (excluding children), who are mostly non-indigenes in the area.
“I cannot forget the last demolition in 2006. I lost everything including my hotel, and the only thing left was my motor cycle,” Egbo lamented.
Also, the chairman of the Association, in a letter dated 16th May, 2015, and jointly signed by him, secretary and three other exco members, and addressed to the DPO Gwagwa police Division, informed the police of the looming crisis, if those behind the planned demolition were not stopped.
In their letter, the residents appealed to the police or any other security agency not to allow any illegal demolition in Tasha, considering the rate of insecurity in the country.
However, the association called on landlords and tenants in the concerned area to prepare for a peaceful protest on yet to be announced date.
Interestingly, our correspondent, who visited the community at the weekend, observed that although no structure was adorned with FCDA’s demolition markings that usually herald the actual removal of illegal structures in FCT, palpable tension pervades in the area, as the rumoured planned demolition keeps gathering momentum.
However, when Inside Abuja visited the Hakimi of Gwagwa in his palace, Shaibu Mohammed Gwagwa, he declined commenting on the issue, saying that he had no authority on the matter. It will be recalled that similar ‘selective demolition’ was carried out by the FCT Administration on April 30, this year.
The affected residents have continued calling on President Goodluck Jonathan, FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, AMAC chairman, Micah Jiba, as well as in-coming administration of Muhammadu Buhari, to look into the issue of illegal demolition of houses in the FCT.