Published On: Tue, May 14th, 2019

Land use contravention: FCTA demolishes Caramelo Lounge, revokes C-of-O

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By Stanley Onyekwere

The FCT Administration through its Department of Development Control (DDC) yesterday demolished the controversial Caramelo Lounge, a popular strip club in Utako District of Abuja, for allegedly contravening the land use of the nation’s capital city.
It was gathered that DDC officials with their bulldozers accompanied by a joint team of security personnel stormed the sites as early as 7am and within hours reduced the one-storey building to rumbles.
It was also learnt that the demolition exercise, was sequel to a forty-eight-hour final demolition notice, following the issuance of a revocation letter to the operators, by the Department of Lands Administration of the FCTA.
Recall that on April 17, a joint task team of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) involving DDC, Abuja Environment Protection Board (AEPB) Social Development Secretariat (SDS) raided Caramelo and Ibiza club amongst others, and arrested several nude dancers, who were handed to the Nigeria Police for prosecution in line with extant laws in the FCT.
Our correspondent reports that the FCT Administration has given two weeks ultimatum to Ibiza club situated on plot 686 & 687 Cadastral Zone A03, Garki II District, to revert to it’s designated use or risk appropriate sanctions.
Briefing newsmen on the exercise, AMMC Coordinator, Umar Shaibu disclosed that despite serving of quit notice and contravention letters since 2016, the operators failed to revert and continued with the nightclub and other commercial activities on the plot, originally approved for building of a clinic to provide healthcare services for residents there.
Shaibu said the action followed the approval of the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, for the revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O) May 10 for contravening the provisions of Clause no. 10 of Certificate of Occupancy and Clause 10 of the conveyance letter of building plan.
According to him, the revoked plot would be re-allocated to another developer, to serve as a deterrent to others in the Territory.
The AMMC boss noted that the issue assumed critical relevance not only because change of use is inimical to provisions of the Abuja Master Plan, but it has equally generated externalities, which culminate into noise pollution, on-street parking, insecurity, social vices, etc, that comprise the safety, comfort and convenience of the residents of the residential precinct.
He said: “Available records revealed that the Department of Development Control has received application from Mr. Musa Hassan in respect of plot 630, Cadastral Zone B05, Utako District dated 25th April, 2005 for development of a district health facility (Clinic).
“The proposed drawings were processed in line with the Department guidelines and having been satisfied 20th the submission, building plan approval was granted dated, 16th December 2005.
“For the purpose of clarity, the landuse provision designated to accommodate Lounge/Night club activities is within a hotel plot.
“The FCTA allows the operation of night clubs in all such places since the management of the hotels ensure that all the possible externalities as highlighted above are regulated and contained within the plot.”
He continued: “The Council wishes to unequivocally assure the general public that no such operators of night clubs within hotels were ever served with an eviction order since they are operating within designated places and in accordance with approved designs.
“It is important to note that a change of use constitutes a contravention, which is a violation of the Clause 10 of the Building Plan Approval letter, which states that: ‘building(s), if constructed, shall only be used for the purpose for which the plan approval is granted and no change of usage is allowed without the formal consent of this authority.
“Similarly, on 19th March, 2019, the FCTA has invited and interfaced with the operators of Lounges/Night Clubs by convening a meeting at the Honourable Minister’s office, chaired by the Permanent Secretary during which the operators pledged to abide by the city regulations and requested for a one-man the grace period within which they will desist from the use of the premises for their activities.”
Reacting to the development, Managing Director of Caramelo Lounge, Max Eze expressed dismay over the removal exercise, as they were taken aback by the short notice given to them to vacate the property.
Eze, who subtly admitted to the conversion of the original land use, however said the management of the Lounge has been paying millions of Naira as annual contravention fee to the Government.
According to him, the worth of the property demolished is in the tune of over one hundred million Naira as well as about one hundred staff now rendered jobless.
However, a prominent resident in the area, Senator Andrawus Sawa, described the exercise as a very welcome development, as it will restore sanity to the area.
Sawa, a retired colonel and second republic Senator, revealed that he led the series of complaints over the activities of the Caramelo Lounge in the area.
“People visit and park cars indiscriminately from the beginning of our perimeter fence to the end of the club in the area. And some of the people who park their cars, also invite robbers to come and hid in between the cars and carry out criminal activities.
“I wrote to the FCT Minister, complaining about the situation, thereafter, the indiscriminate car parking stopped, but whatever else they are doing continued.
“What they are doing there is very disturbing to us especially the noise, even inside my house which is a stone-throw away from the lounge, I’m always greatly disturbed by their activities,” he said.

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