CAS warns against encroachment on NAF lands

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By Sumaila Ogbaje

The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has warned communities and institutions against encroaching on the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) lands across the country.

This is contained in a statement by AVM Edward Gabkwet, Director, Public Relations and Information, NAF, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Abubakar said he recently discussed issues related to NAF land encroachment by some communities in Benue, when he visited Gov. Hyacinth Alia of the state.

He said the warning was in view of the fact that such encroachment had negative consequences on national security.

The CAS expressed concern that even though NAF had built a fence to contain encroachment at the western boundary of its base in Makurdi, encroachment had persisted at the eastern boundary.

Abubakar raised alarm about the potential loss of 1,537.8 hectares of the 4,486 hectares of NAF land in Benue, representing about 34 per cent of the land originally allocated for establishment of the base in 1977.

“It is important to note that the 4,486 hectares of land currently serving as the home base of Tactical Air Command in Makurdi was allocated to the NAF in 1977 as depicted by the Signature Plan signed by the then Governor, Col. Abdullahi Shellenge.

“The siting of NAF Base at the location was to meet set operational and strategic National Security objectives.

“Ceding such a significant portion of NAF land would limit the required space for medium, and long term infrastructural development necessary for future operational readiness and capability development.

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“These are in addition to immediate security and safety concerns that are apparent with such boundary reduction,” he said.

The CAS said that encroachment on NAF land over the years had resulted in protracted disputes between the NAF and its neighbouring communities.

“Previous efforts to resolve these disputes have failed to achieve desired results,” Abubakar said.

The CAS, however, said a tripartite committee comprising the representatives of the Benue government, NAF and affected communities had been set up to seek lasting solution to the problem.

He expressed the commitment of NAF to tackling communal clashes, banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminality in Benue and other parts of the country.(NAN (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Nabilu Balarabe/Joseph Edeh

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