The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on Thursday arrested two suspected land racketeers for selling plots of land illegally to unsuspecting residents of Ungwan Zaki, in Jahi District, Abuja.
Mr Mukhtar Galadima, Director of Development Control, FCTA, who stated this in Abuja, during the demolition of illegal structures in Jahi community said there would be no compensation for the victims.
Galadima said the suspects, one Mr Yusuf Ibrahim, popularly known as Baban Kalifa, and Prophet Emmanuel Ayisa, would be prosecuted according to the law.
“I am not surprised because these are the antics of criminals, but we have warned the residents and citizens about this kind of ugly situation.
“We have warned people to beware because every land in Abuja has been planned for something. We equally warned residents not to buy land from local chiefs. You have to go to the appropriate authority.
“Even if you want to buy land from somebody, you have to conduct a due diligence search. It is unfortunate that these are victims of circumstances,” he said.
He stressed that the authority would not give them compensation for their loss and advised people to consult appropriate authorities to search for whatever property they want to buy.
The director said, “I feel their pain, but whatever it is, it is illegal and that is why we are removing it.
“It is a continuous process of cleaning and sanitising the city. Obviously, this place is like a criminal den, because when we came in, we saw a lot of characters,” he said.
The Deputy Director and Head of Enforcement, Mr Hassan Ogbole, said that the area was reserved for a road corridor between Kado and Jahi Districts.
Ogbole said that the enforcement team visited the area five times, adding that the people often return and rebuild after every demolition.
“I believe that with this extensive removal of the trees, it will be difficult for them to come back,” he said.
Also, Mr Peter Olumuji, Secretary, Command and Control, FCTA, explained that the arrest was based on intelligence reports by security agencies who gathered that people were contributing money to bribe the enforcement team.
Olumoji explained that the security operatives were able to identify the culprit and arrest was made, adding that the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command had ordered thorough investigation and prosecution of the fraudsters.
One of the victims, Ms Florence Emedo, said that she bought the land about two years ago, and was assured that the area would not be demolished and that she could stay there for 10 years.
“We were told that the traditional leader of the area, called Zaki of Kado, was fully aware of the land, which was initially being sold for N75,000.
“Baban Kalifa assured us that nothing will happen, adding that they have an insider in FCTA and assured us that nothing will happen but from time to time we will just contribute money and give them.
“They asked us to gather money and they will go to the office, and we contributed N10,000 each,” she said.
Another victim, Ms Owadia Valentina, said that she bought the plot for N450,000 while some bought between N100,000 and N200,000.
“He assured us that we can stay for 10 years and that there is already an agreement on the land.
“I moved in October last year, and I just painted two months ago,” she said.
However, the suspect denied the allegation, claiming that they have not sold land to anyone in the area.
Yusuf Ibrahim specifically said that he did not collect any money from anybody for the purpose of enriching himself.
He, however, acknowledged collecting money from the residents, but said it was for compensation to the Gbagyi people who owned the cashew plantation where the lands were sold.
Similarly, Prophet Ayisa, agreed that he and Baban Khalifa held a meeting after which they collected money from the victims of the demolished structures, but not to appease the officials of the FCTA against demolition of their area. (NAN)