Members of the Representatives on Wednesday urged Federal Ministries of Power, Works & Housing as well as Defence, to work out modalities for the return of unutilized expanses of land forcefully acquired for military barracks to host communities.
According to Afe Olowookere (APC-Ondo), who sponsored the motion, one-quarter of the land area of the cities were acquired by the military government in the ’70s for the construction of military barracks.
Olowookere who frowned at the circumstances surrounding the take-over of the asset, argued that “as at the time those lands were acquired, the communities affected could not raise any voice of opposition inspite of the economic deprivation.”
While noting that the military’s draconian rule, he solicited for the intervention of the House with the view to ensure justice.
“Since the acquisition, none of those lands has been put to maximum use by the Military, rather more than 80% of the land has not been occupied, a good example of which is the Owena Army barrack in Akure, Ondo State; Alamala Army barrack in Abeokuta, Ogun State; Ojoo Military Cantonment in Ibadan, Oyo State and the Abuja acquisition that covers Giri-Zuba-Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport,” he observed.
According to the lawmaker, “Commandants of those barracks have allegedly, using agents, turned to emergency landlords/land owners and are now giving out the periphery of the lands to people that desire land for economic ventures on an annual rentage, and are raking in for themselves colossal amounts of money, while properties of those tenants are usually destroyed in the event of default in payments.”
The House also urged relevant authorities to halt the encroachment of lands acquired for construction of military barracks across the country.
While ruling, Yussuff Lasun, Deputy Speaker who presided over the plenary session, urged that the occupants of the lands to comply with the original purpose for which the lands were acquired.
To this end, the House mandated the joint Committees on Defence and Housing to ensure implementation.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja