By Stanley Onyekwere
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) through the Department of Development Control, of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), yesterday sealed off five churches, one private clinic and a super market at Efab Estate, Mbora District of the Territory, for illegal land use conversions.
Peoples Daily reports that officials of the Department, who storm the area, affixed the seal sticker and padlock on the affected structures, forcing many occupants to be locked outside of the buildings, which it was gathered were hitherto approved for residential purposes, before they were converted into commercial use.
The churches were three branches of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), a branch of Deeper Life Bible Church and House of Truth Church, all located at 1st Avenue, Road 39, Road 37 and Road 307 respectively, in the Efab Estate.
Also, the private Super Market and clinic sealed off were 1st B Super Market and Seraph Medical Practice, sited in House 31, 1st Avenue and 3rd Avenue of the EFAB Estate respectively.
Briefing journalists at the end of the exercise, the Public Relations Officer of the Department, Kalu Emetu, said the approval given by the Department for the affected property was for residential use but were converted by their owners to commercial and religious use, thereby contravening the FCT Land Use Act.
He disclosed that they embarked on the exercise after the Department’s site officers during one of the routine checks in the area discovered that some residential houses were converted into unapproved purposes.
According to him, such conversion has negative effects on existing infrastructure provided by the FCT administration, which were appropriate for residential use only.
While noting that owners of such illegally converted structures in the FCT are usually subjected to payment of fines for such contravention, the Department’s Spokesperson however stressed that the objective of the FCTA was only for them to revert to the original land use for which the sites were approved.
“Today (Wednesday), we have sealed off seven properties at EFAB estate for contravening the Land Use Act. The buildings were approved for residential but have been converted to commercial use.
“We usually advice plot owners to get approval for their buildings because such conversion affects negatively the infrastructure that government spent a lot of money to put in place”
“So, it is not that we are going to demolish the affected buildings, but the essence is to force the owners of such structures to revert back to the original use approved”, he stressed.
The PRO maintained that the exercise would be a continuous one noting that there are several other illegal conversions within the FCT, that have to revert back to their original approved plans.