Addressing the media earlier today during a press conference Garki stakeholders under the auspices of Garki Kingdom Elite Forum stated that “Over the years we have followed development in the FCT in particular as it affect our homes, farms and other businesses”.
While the Federal Government has been busy developing a befitting Capital for Nigerian, it has equally been busy destroying the homes, farms and business premises of the natives of the FCT.
We have tried for a long time at different fora to draw the attention of all relevant authorities to this fact but it has continued unabated, as law abiding citizens we lived peaceful and given our maximum cooperation which enabled the development so far achieved in the FCT without reciprocating same to us, instead we are daily harassed, intimidated, our homes destroyed and our Divine given land confiscated. We are now pushed to the wall which we feel we should let all Nigerian and the whole world know our plight. It is in this light that we have called you the press, as friends in struggle for the defence of human values and justice.
Over the years we have taken our case to the National Assembly which they have invited us a couple of time, we have also written and met with FCTA authorities on many occasions but nothing is done to address the issue which bothers on the incessant invasion of the peaceful existence of Abuja natives and the constant security threat, trespass to our land and sundry issues.
As we speak we have once again written letter to the FCT Minister which reads as follows:-
Pursuant to our numerous correspondences with you at various times, we have been compelled to write to you once again reiterating our numerous concerns that still remain unattended and our precarious situations which remain unabated. You may recall that sometimes on the 7th day of November, 2017, we wrote to you on the subject of security threats and trespass to our lands which you directed the Legal Department of the FCTA to handle.
As we appreciate your honest desire to see to the positive resolution of our concerns, it is however disheartening to report to you that the said Legal department have failed, refused and/or neglected to carry out your directive. And now rather than seeing an improvement on our condition, our communities are now being dragged into intimidating litigations and the private property owners continue to harass and intimidate our communities with the police and the military.
Posterity will testify to the peaceful and patient disposition we have exercised during these years of unlawful and unfair invasion of our ancestral lands by the Federal Government, agents of the government and private entities and individuals who acquired our inheritance through improper means wherein we have been reduced to third class status and our existence as a people is soon been pushed into oblivion. A situation no people should be subjected to by any responsible government.
We should also not be ignorant of the fact that like our counterparts in other parts of the country who still exercise full rights over their lands, we have been part of this lands that is been coercively snatched from us for centuries even before the coming into existence of the extraction now called Nigeria and certainly before the dream of moving the Federal Capital Territory to our land. Taking our lands from us means taking away our identity and our purpose for existence as a people. This is a grave violation of the sacred principles for which the United Nations was formed.
In other climes even within Nigeria, compulsory acquisition of communal or individual lands for overriding public purposes is preceded by a prompt and adequate compensation and most times with alternative lands provided. But in our own case, our lands have been compulsorily acquired amidst harassments and with little and in most cases no compensation paid to us. As a result, our means of livelihood is taken away from us and we are left in the cold wherein we have been forced to become beggars and squatters in our own land.
We should also not forget that this land is the only place we have and ever known as our homes. We cannot lay claim to any other place as ours. Hence, the earlier we remind ourselves that a people been pushed to the wall will soon revolt the better for all of us as a nation.
Our people have been exposed to varieties of menace and hazards as a result of the inhuman, indiscriminate and inconsiderate invasions of our lands ranging from the alteration of the biosphere causing outbreak of diseases, rendering us homeless, deprivation of our source of livelihood by the confiscation of our farmlands, exposure to security threats, malnutrition, etc. With all these, no concerns have been paid to our plights as citizens. We have been constrained from expansion which by natural phenomena our population is increasing and our children grow and become of age and need to establish their homes. This is a very bad condition that a people could be put through.
It is important to emphasize that we are not licensees or squatters but traditional title holders of our lands within the FCT. It is against our custom to seek and obtain government approval before erecting structures in our traditional settlements which is what the government of Nigeria suggests we do, a practice that is not obtainable in other parts of the country. Our rejection of this novel practice has led to our use of our ancestral lands being criminalized.
The laws that are often being brandished against us by government officials and shylock developers when they come to invade our lands were made by humans not gods. The proper processes of law making were not even complied with as no consultation was made with us who were to be grossly affected by the laws. None of us was ever invited for any conference or public hearing where issues were discussed pertaining to the content of the laws. We didn’t have representatives at the legislative body that enacted such laws. These goes to show our fate was decided unfairly as if we are in the animal kingdom where might is right.
Even the FCT Act that vests the entire FCT land on the Federal government of Nigeria is in gross contradiction with the Constitution of Nigeria. The said Act excludes the applicability of the Land Used Act in the FCT. Whereas the Constitution under Section 315 (5)(d) affirms the sanctity of the Land Used Act which is applicable throughout Nigeria. Yet we are being deprived of the enjoyment of the guarantees and rights contained in it.
Let it also be emphasized that we are being punished for no just cause as it is the failure of the government to implement the master-plan of the newly designed FCT, and recent governments who have failed to implement policies that will bring to rest all these agitations.
As we continue to repose our confidence in you, we will like you to give priority consideration to the following requests which we have times without number reiterated and demanded from your office;
1. The Federal Capital Territory Administration in conjunction with all relevant stakeholders should come up with templates on the settlements of the original inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory. In the interim, all ongoing projects within our settlements should be put on hold while the template is being designed and adopted. This line of action must be communicated to all stakeholders and must be published in both electronic and print media.
2. All the network roads designed to pass through all indigenous settlements should be redesigned
3. The FCDA should comply with compensation and planning regulations enshrined in the Constitution and in accordance with global best practices before allocation and acquisition of lands.
4. The global resettlement policy gave option to the original inhabitants to be settled or resettled within or outside of the territory depending on their choice. We advised that this policy be adopted and implemented where all settlements of the original inhabitants of the FCT should be integrated into the master plan with the consequence of the government revoking all allocations touching the settlements of the natives and allowing a perimeter to enable expansion of the communities.
5. The current rates and method of assessment of economic trees and crops for compensation should be reviewed, where compensation shall be in accordance with the constitution and global best practices.
6. All the security agencies and the FCDA department of development control should be restrained from being used by developers to forcefully enter into our homes and lands without due regard to due processes of law as it pertains to compensation and arbitral arrest and detention of our traditional rulers and youth must stop.
7. The private property developers should be restrained from unlawful invasion and interference with our existence as a community enjoying all the rights and benefits inherent thereto. This is more so as we do not have any other place to lay claim to as our home. The FCT is the only aboriginal place of abode we can lay claim to as our home.
8. The FCT Act should be amended or repealed so that our customary right recognized under the Land Used Act and the Constitution can be restored,
We conclude by affirming our continuous loyalty to all constituted authorities and to remain law abiding citizens of Nigeria. We are committed to the unity of Nigeria. We must however stress the fact that constant invasion and violation of our natural inclination towards peace is being stretched to the limit and may no longer hold if the violations of our rights persist. We pray for God’s wisdom and guidance upon you as you give priority attention to this our overdue concerns.
Accept the assurances of our esteemed regards
That is our latest letter to the FCT Minister.
As we wait the response or action of the Minister, we want to clearly state that, we have ran out of patience and if prompt action is not taken as demanded or by any better acceptable approach, we will not have any other option but to stand up in defence of our homes, farms, business premises and more importantly our lives and the future of our children.
Once again, you are welcome.