We will deal squarely with land grabbers – Wike

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By Philip Yatai

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr Nyesom Wike, says the FCT Administration will deal squarely with land grabbers, no matter how highly- placed.

Wike gave the warning when officials of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), FCT Chapter, visited him in Abuja on Thursday.

“Land grabbing is not new. Some of your people are part of it, some staff of FCT are part of it.

“As a government, we will do all we can to see that we deal squarely with anybody that is involved, no matter how highly- placed he or she might be.

“It is  a terrible situation we found ourselves in. People grabbing land; people illegally acquiring land, just for the purpose of becoming rich overnight,” the minister said.

He pointed out that everyday ,people write  the FCTA, demanding for land allocation to develop a certain number of houses in the city.

He, however, said that many people were doing that just to obtain a land title and at the end of the day, nothing was developed.

“They will do all they can; take our land and sell it to people for development.

“For me, that is not helping us to reduce the housing deficit, no. That is just a way of taking government land and enriching yourselves at the expense of the government,” he said.

The minister added, “Yes government cannot sell land, so why will the government give out land for the purpose of housing estate and then you are selling the land?

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“The government can as well sell the land itself if that is the case.”

Wike said that to address the challenge, the FCTA had decided that developers must show financial capacity before land would be allocated to them in FCT.

He added that a reputable commercial bank must also write an undertaking that the developer has the financial capacity for such development.

“Two, you will write an undertaking that the project will commence and be completed within a specified time without any condition attached to it.

“Three, that failure to develop the land, the government is entitled to take back its land. It does not matter what form of development you are putting there.

“If that is done, then we will be convinced and give you our land allocation with proper documentation,” he said.

He said that the  measures were necessary to ensure that developers do not steal from the government in the name of development.

The minister said that there were currently over 1000 litigations in different courts over land matters, with kore being recorded on daily basis.

The minister also berated real estate developers for not meeting up to their obligations to the government, particularly in the payment of taxes relating to land.

“Even when you sell your properties, you don’t remit part of which belongs to the government.

“So, I want to partner with you but on good faith, not partnership that one party would be detrimental to the other, no. It has to be mutual and symbiotic,” Wike said.

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Earlier, REDAN Chairman, Dr Ehikioya Okoruwa, assured Wike of the association’s readiness to partner the FCTA to bridge housing deficits in the territory.

Okoruwa said that to that end, the association planned to build 15,000 houses.

He further said that REDAN would invest N262 billion in the housing sector, adding that the FCTA would gain a lot  if they supported the project.

Okoruwa  said that REDAN was working with security agencies to address land racketeering, emphasising the association’s commitment to ethical practices and accountability.

“This meeting sets the stage for a potential partnership between the FCT Administration and REDAN, but with clear terms and expectations for accountability and transparency,” he said. (NAN)

Edited by Buhari Bolaji

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