Kingsley Madaki, Abuja
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, has disclosed that the administration has adopted a new approach in the removal of illegal structures in Abuja.
He said the new approach was to give the exercise a human face.
The Minister said this while receiving a delegation from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), led by its Executive Secretary, Professor Bem Angwe, which paid him a working visit in Abuja.
Bello explained that the FCT Administration abandoned its previous style of demolishing illegal structures to enable affected residents salvage any useful material in the process.
He noted that the owners of such property are now carried along in the process and also given ample time to retrieve some useful material that can be taken away, thereby reducing the pains.
The Minister said that the approach has paid off because it has encouraged understanding and reduced friction.
He appreciated the role the National Human Rights Commission played for the FCT Administration to adopt the new procedure.
The Minister described the Commission as a reputable organization because the institution tells people when they are wrong; irrespective of whom they are.
The Minister recalled an incident where the FCT Development Control Department was dragged to the Commission in the course of enforcing Development Control laws, and the Commission agreed that although the Department was on the right side of the law, it needed to apply more human face and make sure Nigerians appreciate why they are taking those actions.
“That for me was an eye opener and since then, I have insisted that whatever we do, it’s very important that we do a lot of advocacy and explanation to the people. Even if there is going to be demolition or relocation of people, there is a clear instruction now that no more destruction; give people reasonable time and notice and also encourage them to do the dismantling by themselves. That way, you reduce tension and more importantly, you allow them to salvage what has economic value. That’s what we have been doing and it has worked”, the minister said.
According to him, “several places we go now, we show them the law, tell them their infringement and we say to them, we will not come and remove anything. You do it yourself; salvage what can be salvaged and at the end of the day, everybody is the better off for it. You are able to not waste things that ordinarily could have been used elsewhere”.
Malam Bello however expressed concern over the lingering Wuye Market controversy; saying that the Administration desires to have a city that is vibrant with economic activities and the attendant employment opportunities it could provide.
“Economic activities bring about employment; it raises business transactions and overall welfare of the people. So, each time facilities are built and developed and they are not put to use due to some sort of impediments, I think everybody loses out and above all, the entire community and society loses out. Even though the matter is in the courts, I do hope that all the parties involved will show understanding on the matter”, he said.
Bello also urged the Rights Commission to do more in terms of enlightenment of FCT residents on the need to be law abiding and to carry out their activities in a manner as to not infringe on the rights of other residents of the Territory.
Speaking, Professor Angwe said that the Commission is one of the best legacies of military rule in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary promised to continue to partner with the FCT Administration in the overall interest of Nigerians.