A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Mobile court has commenced the trial of some occupants of clusters of blocks of flats at Kigoma street, in Wuse zone 7, Abuja, for allegedly failing to redecorate and beautiful their homes/environment, within the prescribed specific designs and condition as well as original plan.
This is coming on the heels of ongoing reinvigorated drive by the Department of Development Control, of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), towards redecoration of dilapidated buildings within the Federal Capital City (FCC).
Peoples Daily reports that a total of twenty-four occupants of three blocks of flats (block 2, 5 and 7 respectively), in the area, were summoned before the Mobile court presided over by Magistrate Bashir Alkali, for offences bordering on nature of premises.
The affected occupants, who were arraigned in the court, by officials of the Department of Development Control, at the weekend, for purported outright refusal to redecorate their dilapidated buildings, even after they were allegedly notified by the Department, l on February 10.
The Principal state counsel with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) Arome Tokula, told the court that the Development Control had in some time in February this year, issued relevant notices regarding the poor condition of their blocks of flats, but till date they have done nothing about it.
“The Development Control had severally instructed the accused (the occupants) to redecorate their houses, upon discovery of the dilapidated state of the buildings where they are living in, yet they refused to comply with the directive.
“The notice was served them sometime in early February, and till now they have not done so; this shows outright disregard for the said order, which the Department is empowered to enforce”, he pointed out.
The Prosecutor added that the offence, was in contravention of section 35 (1) e of AEPB Act, which stipulates that residents within the Federal Capital city (FCC) are required to keep their buildings within the 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.
He therefore urged the court to issue an order to make them (accused) comply accordingly with the directive of the authorities.
On their part, most of the accused persons (residents) who admitted that they had received the said notice on the said date, told the court that they had started a process towards complying with the order.
They however, argued that they because most of them are civil servants, they had no enough financial power to immediately comply with the said order, shortly after they received it.
On the other hand, the occupants of block 2, who claimed ignorance of the said notice, said as at the time when the purported notice was served on the property, the Landlord had not acquired it, and consequently they had not packed in.
In his ruling, after listening to the accused persons (residents) in clusters of flats in block 5 and 7, the Magistrate, who found them guilty of failure to comply with the authorities, however ordered them to pay fine of N30, 000 each.
He also gave them two weeks, within which to comply accordingly.
For the occupants of cluster of flats in block 2, the Magistrate urged to comply with the said order within 21 days to comply, as there was no evidence to show that they were served with the purported notice.
Furthermore, he issued a bench warrant (order of arrest) against some of the accused persons, who did not appear before the court, with the exception of those, who informed the court about their failure to be in court, before adjourning the court’s sitting till two weeks’ time, for continuation of hearing.
Speaking to newsmen, at the end of court sitting, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Development Control, Kalu Emetu, reiterated that residents are expected to redecorate or renovate their buildings, at least once in four years, failure of which they may be forced to do so.
He noted that owing to the effectiveness of the enforcement of redecoration of buildings through the use of the Mobile courts, there is noticeable change of aesthetics outlook of neighbourhoods, where the court had held its sittings.