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Abuja Land Scams: Tourism Investor Cries Over Contempt of Court

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The court case on Park 1066 in Durumi District in Abuja has taken a new dimension with the court order restraining the developers of the land being violated.

It would be recalled that Nze Kanayo Chukwumezie had dragged the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, the Federal Capital Development Authority, Abuja Metropolitan Management Agency, Mr Anyaneme and Mrs Anyaneme (proprietor and proprietress of Stella Maris Group of Schools) to court in 2011 over alleged trespass on his land at Durumi.

In the motion no: 6272\15, dated 16 April 2015, and filed on 17\04\2015, Justice OC Agbaza of Court no: 18, High Court of the FCT sitting at Jabi, Abuja, granted, “An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants, either by themselves, their agents, assigns, servants, privies, or anybody however acting through or on their behalf from interfering, working, building, constructing or in any way trespassing in Park no: 1066, B02 (Durumi District) pending the determination of the substantive suit.”

The court also fixed the return date on 28\9\15. The court order was duly pasted on the ongoing work on the site, but it was gathered that construction work had continued despite the order.

Nze Chukwumezie, a tourism merchant and also president of African Arts and Cultural Heritage Association, said in an interview that, “I have been saying this since 2011, and I won’t stop because it is even getting worse. There is a case of Park 1066 in Durumi District in the FCT. I did apply to the FCT minister, and it was recommended because I was invited by Parks and Recreation to defend my application. They set up a panel of five. They called me to defend my proposal. I met their requirements. After two years, I got the allocation. I was made to pay the required fees, which ran into a million naira plus. I paid, and the next thing was when they called for verification. I did mine. They asked me to get the site plan from Abuja Geographical Information System. The story changed there. It was at AGIS that I was informed that the land had been given out to somebody else. I was shocked.”

He had resorted to court since then. He said before going to court, he wrote the minister of the FCT after his personal investigation revealed that the place was given to somebody to build a commercial estate, although it was until then allocated to him as a green area.

According to Kanayo, “Most investors regret venturing into land matters in the FCT. Some of us that invested in land are not finding it funny because those in government are using their positions to exploit and extort us. I have been a victim of this several times.”

He also cited another land malpractice involving him: “There is a land I bought from an air vice marshal in Durumi District of Abuja. The seller later grew to be a director in the Air Force. He told me the land was for military and paramilitary personnel. I did the search – AGIS told me that there were no encumbrances but it was not yet registered in their system. But they assured me there was no problem. I paid millions of naira. When I went to AGIS again toregister for the power of attorney; that was where the story changed.

They dribbled me severally before telling me that the file of my land was missing. I wrote a petition to the minister. I got the acknowledgement from the FCT minister. A few weeks later, my name was removed again. I learnt that my name was removed because it was not the ‘big’ men they allegedly programmed for the land. I have been in court since then. I investigated and found out that a director in AGIS is the one allocating the land to himself.”

He blames AGIS as the mastermind of the sharp practices. Ironically, AGIS was set up to correct land maladministration in the FCT. Nze Kanayo said, “Instead of correcting the anomalies, AGIS is compounding them. You can imagine where AGIS has in its system a commercial estate

when it was meant for a green area! When I wrote the minister to reverse it, he did not. But when I went to the press, he went on air to announce that all green areas had been reversed by fiat. I ran to the same AGIS to check if mine was reversed and behold it was reversed, but was not given back to me. As I am talking to you now, somebody is developing that place. The land has been in fallow since 2011 when I went to court. But currently it is being developed despite that we are in court.”

It is against this backdrop that he is calling for probe of AGIS. In his words, “Buhari’s slogan has been ‘change’, and I have always been an advocate of positive change. We want things to get better. I personally call for a thorough investigation of AGIS, and other similar agencies. These agencies should be subjected to a forensic test. The decay is too much, and I am just one out of the million victims. Thousands of Nigerians cannot sustain the cases I do.

It is high time we told the incoming administration that investigating AGIS and land administration in the FCT is one of the directions it has to embark upon to correct the anomalies.”

Nze Chukwumezie berated the Jonathan administration for paying lip service to land administration throughout its tenure. He said, “I have written President Goodluck Jonathan on this matter many a time, and nothing came forth. For your information, there are thousands of people in Abuja being deprived of their lands by the officials of AGIS currently. Abuja land case is messy. I call on the Buhari administration to effect a change in AGIS immediately to save genuine investors.”

He said tourism is one area that government can earn foreign exchange if it is well managed: “I am the president of one of tourism associations in Africa. Culture and tourism are the bedrock of Nigeria’s economy, aside oil. Government is not helping matters if this trend is not checkmated. Most Nigerians do not know anything about vacation. They only know green areas for vacation. So government should not gamble into converting green areas into commercial areas.”

Nze Chukwumezie said he lived overseas for over two decades, and had returned to Nigeria to invest. He expressed mixed feelings about what he met: “I am disappointed with what is happening, but I will not say that I regret coming back because the little things we do help in changing the system; thank God ‘change’ has come courtesy of President Buhari. These little efforts we make may look minute, but they correct certain things. I am happy to reveal these because there are many other Nigerians facing the same problems.”

He has a message for Nigerians in this regard: “I won’t tell people not to do land business but they should be very careful. I also urge them to stand by their right. These officials use their positions to steal. In my case, the structures in my plot were demolished and evacuated the same day. When we fight for our right, definitely the miscreants in government will be checkmated. The latest one baffles me the more. With court orders pasted on the walls of buildings under construction, it is amazing how the developers have continued to build without first vacating the orders. Maybe some people are above the law.”