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Thursday, 30 November 2023 10:27

800 Cases Against FCT, Will Hire Senior Advocates, Hints At Internal Betrayal — Minister

Vows To Cancel Some PPP Deals, Says They Only Enrich Developers



Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, yesterday, disclosed that he plans to engage Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to help handle cases involving the FCT administration.

He lamented that lack of diligent prosecution of cases in the past by FCT officials led to the loss of a number of cases.

Wike, who further disclosed that there were over 800 litigations involving the FCT, alleged complicity on the part of some officials who connived with plaintiffs to get judgments against the FCT administration.

He said: “I have never seen a territory with over 800 litigations. Some of these litigations were in connivance with staff of the FCT. So, I said I will engage SANs because I don’t want a situation whereby someone will go to court and then agree with the plaintiffs and judgment is entered against the FCT.”

The minister stated this when he appeared before the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on the FCT to defend the administration’s N61 billion supplementary budget.

Wike, who said the budget components were projects-specific, added that President Bola Tinubu would commission most of them, including the Abuja Metro Line by May, as part of activities marking the president’s one year in office.

He said: “Mr President will commission the metro line by May. If you look at the national budget, there is a provision for the rail project.”

On security, he said the administration would revive the city’s mass transit system, to eliminate cases of “one chance”, adding that private operators would undergo security vetting before being allowed into the system.

He said he was working with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Department of State Services (DSS), with regards to providing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in strategic parts of the city.

Responding to a question on the fate of victims of the administration’s demolition exercises, the minister said Nigerians cannot desire a world-class Federal Capital Territory and then make excuses for unplanned and illegal developments.

Noting that demolitions could not be stopped as long as people continue to build on green areas, water and sewage lines and other unapproved places, he said the administration would, however, pay compensation in areas designated for resettlement.

He said: “We can’t stop demolitions. You cannot go and build in a green area and, then, when we demolish, you want us to compensate you. Illegality is illegality. But if we want to acquire your property for development, we will pay you.”

Wike also vowed to cancel some Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) entered into by the administration with some private developers, saying those arrangements had been used to fleece the administration of billions in the past.

He said: “I will cancel several PPPs. All the PPPs in Abuja is about land and is against the FCT.”

Wike cited a case in Wassa, where the administration gave the developer land for mass housing, gave him another N85 billion for infrastructure, lamenting that the developer would go and build houses, sell to people at market value without anything coming to the administration. “We will cancel it,” he declared.

He also restated his position on the recertification of all Certificates of Occupancy.

“All C of Os will be re-certified and you will put your NIN. In FCT, there is a lot of fake C of Os, but with this new development, we will end that and, security wise, we can know people who own each structure. If you have C of Os and you have not re-certified, it will no longer be valid,” he stated.

The N61 billion FCT Supplementary Budget was drawn from its Paris Club refund, PAYE, the N5 billion special presidential intervention for states, the presidential infrastructure support funds and the territory’s Internally Generated Revenue IGR.

Chairman, House Committee on FCT, Muktar Betara, who lauded the minister for his passion to develop the territory, however, urged him to reconsider the uniform fees for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, saying highbrow areas like Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and others cannot have the same fees with the satellite towns.

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