By Stanley Onyekwere
A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mobile court presided over Magistrate Mohammed Jibril Kutigi, has given two weeks ultimatum to residents of some blocks of flats terraces in Dakama close, Area 2, Garki District, within which they are expected to carry out necessary renovation works on their households.
The affected occupants, who were arraigned in the court, for failing to redecorate and beautiful their homes and environment, within the prescribed specific designs and condition as well as original plan, even after they were allegedly notified by the Department of Development Control to do so.
However, after listening to the residents, who argued that they were never served with any notice asking them to comply with the redecoration order, the Magistrate ruled that the prosecution failed to prove otherwise, and asked them to comply with redecoration order, since they have been notified accordingly.
Peoples Daily that a total of 44 occupants of blocks of flats terrace in Dakama Close and Uromi close, in Area 2, Garki District, were summoned to the court, on charges bordering on nature of premises.
For the other persons, (occupants of flats 1 to 12) in Uromi close, who did not deem fit to appear before the court, the Magistrate issued a bench warrant for their arrest and production before the court on its next sitting, which is November 15.
Speaking to newsmen, Principal state counsel with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Arome Tokula, said that all the accused were arraigned for the offence, in contravention of section 35 (1) e of the AEPB Act, which stipulates that residents within the Federal Capital city (FCC) are required to keep their buildings within prescribed specific designs and condition as well as original plan, which should be done in compliance with provisions of the regulations of the Development Control and the AEPB.
According to him, the punishment for failure to comply with the provisions of the relevant Act, could be sentence for payment of not less than N500 fine, or imprisonment of six months or both fine and imprisonment, which is at the discretion of the Magistrate.
Similarly, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Development Control, Kalu Emetu, said although the court held that the defaulting occupants were not properly served the redecoration notices, attributing it to the timely of the service.
“Normally, we operate during office hours, and most times when our officers visit their premises, the people are nowhere to be seen either they are out on their businesses or any other thing.
“We will do better next time, to avoid a situation where people will come to the court and claimed that were not properly served with any notice,” the PRO stressed.
In his reaction, Chairman of Dakama Close Residents Association, Ibikunle Ladejobi, who described the position of the court as fair, reiterated that they were not notified to redecorate our buildings, even though the prosecution had claimed that the letters of notification was given to some boys on the street.
“Even though we complained that two weeks is too short to be able to mobilize and complete the work, but we will start the process and see what we can achieve with the given period.
“We have no choice, we will go and do what we can do, but obviously we would have loved more time, and if we are not able to finish, we will report back to the court, asking for more time to complete the job, he said.