By Philip Yatai
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Nyesom Wike, has inaugurated a Task Force on the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for mass housing and the recovery of land use contravention fees.
Wike explained while inaugurating the task force in Abuja on Tuesday that the measure was to ensure that each of the houses in mass housing estates has its own C of O and pay for it.
He lamented that virtually all the residential areas have been turned to commercial, adding, “something must be done about it.”
He said that those who contravened the Land Use Act must be recertified and pay the appropriate penalties.
Wike explained that those given approval for residential buildings have converted to commercial structures, while those given for commercial also contravene by building residential houses.
“So, there must be a recertification and there must be penalties.
“The only way people can be deterred from doing this is to make sure that we discourage them and discouraging them means that if you want to build, you have a penalty to pay, and that penalty must be severe.
“In as much as we want to generate revenue, we also want to control the development of areas.
“Abuja has to go back to the original Master Plan. If there is need to have some amendment, it is the government that will do such amendment, it is not for the allottees to do so on their own,” he said.
The minister said that government agencies in charge of land administration in the FCT were part of the problem, adding that the agencies were included in the task force to solve the problem they created.
He said: “Part of the problem we are having is the agencies: development control is part of the problem; the land registry is part of the problem; Abuja Geographic Information System AGIS is part of the problem.
“That is why they are part of the task force to face the problem they have caused and solve the problem. No outsider will do it.
“So, you must be diligent. Of course, you know, I will monitor what you are doing, and this assignment will not last more than one month from today.
“Whatever fund you require, let us know, Zenith bank will provide you the fund, but I must approve the fund.
“You write to me, and I will tell Zenith Bank what I need.*
Wike directed the task force to open two dedicated bank accounts for the assignment, saying, “one for non-compliance with the land use act and the other for the C of O.”
He also asked the task force to include people who were given land by the Area Councils but without C of O, adding that those concerned should be asked to apply and be informed about the amount to pay.
Wike explained that Abuja depended on Internally Generated Revenue to execute projects in the FCT.
“I am not interested in who did not comply and I don’t want anybody to write to me that the task force came. All I need is results. I don’t want excuses,” he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee would be chaired by Mr Michael Chinda, Senior Special Assistant to Wike on Lands, Urban and Regional Planning.
The Executive Secretary, Federal Capital Development Authority, Mr Shehu Ahmad, would serve as the secretary.
Other members of the taskforce include the Director, Department of Development Control, Director, Department of Land Administration and the Director, Department of Surveying and Mapping.
Others are the Director, Department of Mass Housing, Director of AGIS, and Director, Department of Urban and Regional Planning.
Also included are two estate surveyors, Dr Emmanuel Mark and Mr Emma Okas.
Responding on behalf of the members, Chinda expressed the readiness of the task force team to get to work and promised not to disappoint the minister.
The chairman further promised to deliver on the task within a month.
He described C of O as an “indispensable requirement” for land ownership, adding that the land belongs to the government and the people using it must pay.
“We will not spare anyone that has contravene and we will do the needful
“I can assure you that we will do this job with precision, diligence and a high level of professionalism so that we will meet your expectation and possibly exceed.” (NAN)
Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani