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The Chairman, Sub-Committee to investigate the process of land allocation in the FCT Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi has strongly stated that the Housing Committee on FCT will ensure that it seeks justice to the issue of Illegal land allocation in the FCT as well as pluck out all forms leakages and corruptions going on within and around the FCT.

He made this statement in an investigative briefing session at the National Assembly earlier today. Present at briefing were some invited CEO’s of the company owning estates that were listed in the Punch Newspaper of 23rd August, 2018.

Speaking with HousingNews Correspondent, Hon. Gwaza stated that the committee has the interest of the citizens of Nigeria at heart and are only doing their legislative duty to make sure it carries out all the necessary investigation to put an end to illegal land allocation in the FCT and ensure that Nigerians buy a property with genuine documents in their hands.

“This invitation is a result of so many petitions and the need to protect the citizens of this country that have elected us to this office.” He said

He added, “…most times the buyers of these lands are at the receiving end. We are here to protect the buyers who are citizens of this great country”

“…and indeed we will not allow citizens carry on transactions when there are so many issues that have not been properly clarified.”

The CEO of the companies present at the briefing were invited to appear before the committee to submit the various valid documents that are processes of land allocation of the properties in question from site conceptualization all the way to developing the land and subsequent allocations.

Companies who had their relevant documents were asked to submit same while swearing an oath of submitting valid documents to the Committee.

In response to the submissions, Hon. Gwaza said “we are going to painstakingly go through all your submissions and if need be a carbon-dated forensic exercise will be carried out to make sure that the common wealth of this country, ‘land theft’ is not being perpetrated and transferred to innocent citizens that will never get title documents at the end of the day but will continually suffer from one court case to the other”

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Speaking with some of those affected, the Group Legal Adviser of ABC Shelters; Barr. Paul Abraham, stated that the development is a good one as it will help to tidy up the real estate industry. CEO, Bricklink Africa Plc. Mr. Mohammed Buhari also appreciated the efforts of the committee however expressed that the relevant authorities in-charge of allocations of title documents come up with documents relating to the lands in question.

Speaking on behalf of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), the President of REDAN Surv. Rev. Ugochukwu Chime thanked the committee on their determination to add value to what is being done in the real estate sector.

“We are here with our members not just in solidarity but with the aim of enabling the committee to do their work very well” he said

The REDAN President reacted on the manner in which the publication was made in The Punch of 23rd August, 2018; in such a way that it criminalized those whose estates were listed which is bad for the real estate sector and those involved while stating that some estates were left behind in this exercise.

“Perception is everything in real estate and if someone perceives that he will have problem in this environment, he will cease transaction …making investors wary of trading” He said

The Chairman of the Sub-Committee stated expressly that the briefing was in no way a witch hunt. “Considering the number of these companies, we are going to take them in phases and categorize them” he said

He added “Companies that have developed and sold properties totally will be in one category, companies that are still in the process in another while companies that just have bare parcel of land that will be another category in order for us to discharge this responsibility quickly.”

The REDAN President however pleaded with the committee that ample time be given to the affected estate developers to get the relevant documents which will make up their submission.

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“there is an urgent need to give people time to give you documents that will help you do your work appropriately” he said. “if that is not done, you may end up doing the wrong thing. They may even be guilty but bring fresh documents that will exonerate them” he added.

The Chairman approved that the investigation session be adjourned to 5th of September, 2018 by then all affected were expected to bring in their submissions on or before the said date, while the adjourned date will be set for hearing and proper validation of submissions made.

In an interview with HousingNews, Surv. Chime expressed that the REDAN will join hands together with the committee to find a way to make sure that the Nigerian masses are being protected on the issue of illegal allocation of lands and properties.

“The committee has agreed with us and we will work together to make sure that this problem is sorted out once and for all” he said.

He added, “the Lugbe crisis has been on for a long time but we have come to a very firm understanding that we need to sit down and make sure that we put in place some templates that makes sure that this doesn’t occur anymore.”

Wilson Ifeoma

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