No fewer than 400 eminent Nigerians, including former presidents are likely to lose their plots of land and houses on the controversial Maitama District Extension in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to the Nigerian Army.
The Army is claiming ownership of the district, which was developed by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) during the administration of the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan.
Assertions by the allottees or beneficiaries that the Army has no clear evidence that it owns the land.
On September 3, 2016, the Army, without any provocation, deployed soldiers to the area, drove out workers of Kakatar CE Limited, officially contracted to provide engineering infrastructure for the district and sealed off the road leading to the land.
Since then, the company which was contracted by the FCDA to handle the project has been denied access to the site.
It has not also been able to retrieve equipment, such as asphalt-producing plants, rock crushers, state-of-the-art fabrication workshop, heavy duty earth-moving equipment like bulldozers and excavators and trucks trapped in the district.
Soldiers at the first gate of the land told journalists that, “We are on order from the Chief of Army Staff to take over this place and not to allow anyone in or out of the premises.”
According to them, some Army Generals led a team of soldiers to take over the place, adding that they were not given any reason for the action.
Before the current crisis, a cordial relationship existed between the FCDA, Kakatar workers and the Army.
The disputed district shares borders with the Lungi Barracks, near the Brigade of Guards of the Nigerian Army, as well as Asokoro and Maitama Districts.
Since construction began there in 2011, visitors are only allowed access to Kakatar premises after clearance from soldiers at the gates for which they were paid a stipend.
There are speculations that Jonathan owned the entire Maitama Extension, with over 400 plots already allocated to Nigerians which have been duly captured in the Abuja Masterplan.
Kakatar CE is alleged to be one of Jonathan’s firms, but investigations have shown that there is no truth in that.
It was discovered that the FCDA gave the parcels of land to some powerful leaders, former heads of state, serving and former top military officials, serving and past party leaders and some influential traditional and religious leaders in the country.
The Maitama District Extension was actually designated in 2008 by then FCT Minister, Senator Adamu Aliero, under the administration of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua alongside Katampe and Katampe Extension. That government virtually allotted all the plots to the various allottees.
It was also revealed that a former FCT Minister had renamed the district after President Jonathan, who swiftly rejected the “Jonathan District” name for the new district and ordered that the said minister immediately revert to the popularly known “Maitama Extension”.
The FCDA awarded the construction of the infrastructure of the district to Kakatar which made history as the first wholly Nigerian construction firm to be awarded the Abuja district’s infrastructural development project in the FCT.
As a rule, in every district where FCDA awards contract for the development of infrastructure, the contractor gets a temporary space for its site offices. The FCDA maintains oversight function offices for the contractor in the execution of the project.
Kakatar was expected to construct 23 kilometres roads of various types, four major bridges to link the various communities and into the Kubwa Expressway, a clover-leaf interchange linking the district with the highway, provide 26.4 kilometres length of storm water line of various sizes, 31.8 kilometres length of four sewer lines of various sizes; 38.7 kilometres length of water supply lines with relevant accessories and a booster pump station and 1,000m3 of clean water reservoir.
The company was also expected to construct a network of electricity distribution and telecommunication ducts with a 33 KV/11KV injection substation and 11/0.415KV transformer as well as underground cables for distribution and plot connections.
Official sources said that Kakatar has demonstrated the capacity to deliver on the contract terms and made progress in the provision of vital infrastructure under the terms of the contract.
In the FCDA budget, N2.5 billion is earmarked for the settlement of outstanding liabilities to Kakatar and the continuation of work on the Maitama Extension project in its 2016 project approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, who reacted to the action of the soldiers, insisted that the disputed land belonged to the Army.
“The said property is on Nigerian Army land and the Army will not allow anybody to encroach on its land. Consequently, the property has to be sealed to prevent further encroachment,” he said.
The FCDA, which allotted the lands, has remained silent on the matter. It was learnt however, that the agency is caught between braving a feud with the Nigerian Army and the aggrieved allotees who are threatening to sue the Nigerian Army to court for encroachment.
Kakatar is however piqued that it had been denied access into its premises and the use of their equipment by the soldiers.
The spokesman for the company, Mr. Austin Ekeinde, in a statement lamented that the action of the Nigerian Army is causing the firm huge losses and untold hardship on the workers who have been sent home.