By Rogers Edor Ochela
It is unfortunate that over the years, Nigerians have cultivated the habit of promoting impunity, sometimes, to alarming heights. The difference between right and wrong has become blurred so much so that if you insist that things be done in the proper way, you are likely to given the look reserved for museum artifacts, probably thinking that you may have come from another planet. This explains why educated Nigerians, who ordinarily should know the proper procedure for doing things still forge ahead to do them in a wrong way, thereby flouting the laws of the land. And when the weight of the law is brought to bear on them, they cry foul, accusing government of insensitivity.
It is against this background tthat one should view the hue and that trailed the pulling down of Winning Clause Estate (illegally referred to as Saraha Homes) located at Plot 67, Kafe District recently by the FCDA and the unnecessary hurling of invectives at the FCT Minister, Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, just because he insisted on keeping fidelity with Abuja masterpPlan. The question to ask at this juncture is: why the unnecessary fuss over the demolition of an illegal estate, as if it is the first time such estate that has breached the laws of the land with reckless impunity would be pulled down. And unfortunately, such loud-mouths conveniently turn blind eyes to their own complicity in the entire saga. This was the case Saraha Estate that was recently pulled down by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), which is generating unnecessary controversy by those who would want to law bent in their favour.
The CEO, Saraha Homes, Alhaji Kabiru Haruna, who is the estate developer, was being economical with the truth when he said that changes in the FCTA led to the revocation of initial approvals; the truth is that Plot 67 was originally allocated to Pro Form Nigeria Ltd but the company failed to deliver resulting in the revocation of its allocation. The Plot was subsequently re-allocated to Winning Clause Nigeria Ltd. Somewhere along the line, Alhaji Kabiru Haruna, the owner of Saraha Homes Ltd brazenly trespassed the plot and started illegal partitioning and sale of various sizes of land on the Plot without an authorization by way of building plan approval or re-allocation of the Plot to it by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
When the relevant authorities discovered the brazen illegality, the Development Control Department of the FCTA moved in and appropriately marked the emerging structures as illegal for removal with ‘Stop Work’ warnings boldly pasted. But the Stop Work directives were arrogantly defied by Saraha Homes, which ingeniously devised a strategy of selling lands in the plot to unsuspecting highly placed security and professional officials with the hope that when the bubble bursts, they would use their powerful positions to muscle the FCTA into legalizing the illegality.
. Expectedly, the current brouhaha triggers some fundamental questions to wit: Was Saraha ever allocated Plot 67 Kafe District? Is Saraha the same company as Pro Form? Is Saraha owner, Alhaji Kabiru Haruna, also the owner of Pro Form? Where is the original allocation paper in respect of Plot 67 to Saraha Homes, if any? Where is the building plan approval from the Development Control Department of FCTA? Do they have any legally binding document of lease or sale agreement transferring the ownership of Plot 67 by the original allottee, Pro Form to Saraha? If the managers of Saraha could provide convincing answers to the above pertinent questions, then Nigerians will know that FCDA has erred in demolishing the estate. But since Saraha did not have any valid allocation or approved building plan in respect of Plot 67, what it did was a clear case of trespass of the worst order. Chikena!
Due to this illegal development, the lawful allottee of the estate, Winning Clause has not been able to commence lawful development because of the presence of illegal trespassers on the Plot who had been cajoled by Saraha to carry out unlawful development on the land. The owner of the Saraha, Alhaji Kabiru has been under prosecution for unlawful trespass on land that does not belong to him. So, those that have been duped by Alhaji Kabiru and are crying blue murder, calling the minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed unprintable names in the media should desist forthwith, because as a responsible public officer who merely carried out his lawful duty, the minister reserves the right to sue them if it becomes necessary.
Contrary to the stipulations of the law governing Abuja that before any development can take place on any piece of land, there must lawful allocation of such a piece of land to the developer and approved building plans for physical development of the houses, none of the two preconditions were secured in the case of Saraha Homes before buildings started springing up.
It should, however, be noted that the matter later went to court and precisely on November 28, 2013, there was a consent judgment following a mutual agreement between the residents, the Winning Clause and the trespasser, Saraha Homes. The judgment recognized Winning Clause as the lawful owner of Plot 67. After the judgement, the allottees were supposed to have taken necessary steps to reconcile their papers with Winning Clause, the lawful owners by remitting all outstanding payments to it and also work together to ensure that all monies unlawfully paid to Saraha Homes were transferred to Winning Clause. But they didn’t.
Rogers Ochela, a media consultant based in Abuja is reachable via email@example.com