Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai yesterday said the army acquired some portions of land in Abuja to build its headquarters. He spoke when he appeared before a senate committee.
Giving reasons for the acquisition of the 238 hectares of land within the Maitama district extension area of Abuja, Gen. Buratai said:
“We need to relocate the headquarters of the current military office. The current location is not so convenient for us”.
Buratai said that the allocation of the plots to civilians was posting serious security threats to military formation in Abuja.
He explained: “The land under dispute is posting security. If the committee visits the place, they will understand what we are talking about. We are ready to submit ourselves to the civil authorities.
The issue at hand in Maitama, I want to concur with the Minister of FCT. We are talking and we will continue to talk until we arrive at a decision.
“Members of the Army are citizens of FCT. We will remain law abiding. While we are carrying out our duties, we want to make something clear. Before anyone builds something close to a barrack, he or she needs to consider the security implications.” He said.
“Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammad Bello on his submissions to the Senate Committee on FCT on efforts being made by FCT and the Army to resolve the problem amicably.
According to the Minister, the 238 hectares of land was originally allocated to the Nigerian Army in 1996 but sometime in 2009, when Senator Adamu Aliero was the FCT Minister, about 600 plots were re allocated to some privileged civilians and retired Military officers without any legal revocation of allocation made in 1996 when retired Lt –Gen. Jeremiah Useni was the Minister.
He said: “I want to just mention that the area in contention was actually earmarked for the Nigerian Army under the Guards Brigade way back in 1996. But for some time in 2009, a portion and the entire area in contention is about 246 hectares or there about.
Bello continued: “Sometime in 2009, plot allocations were made there and commitments were undertaken by the FCTA in terms of infrastructure. Allocated plots in the from our records numbered about 600 plots out of which Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) have been issued to about 200 from payments of about N5.6 billion have been received aside the commitment of about N9 billion already made in respect of providing infrastructure in the area out of estimated N23 billion”.
He appealed to the committee to give the FCT authority and the Army more time to resolve the problem, saying “at the end of the day, we would be able to reach a solution to meet the needs of the military and of course ensure also those that were allocated plots in that area in terms of financial commitments, do not lose their commitments”.
He added that as a result of the problem, the FCT administration was already identifying all available military lands within the territory towards avoiding similar encroachment aided from within.
“As a result of the experience of what is currently happening in that area we are now working towards identifying all available military lands within the territory to forestall similar problems”, he said.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Dino Melaye, frowned at the indiscriminate allocation of plots by the FCT ministry.
He asked the Minister to ensure that residents who have already made payments were adequately compensated.
Melaye said: “If the land is sold to enemy forces, it can be used as a base to attack the military. It was very irresponsible for that land to have been allocated to private individuals. That land was allocated to the military in 1996. I do not know why they relocated the land to people”.