PERTURBED by the activities of land grabbers and speculators in the Nigeria’s capital city, the Housing Development Advocacy Network, a non-governmental organisation, has called on the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCT) to declare a state of emergency on land racketeering in the FCT.

The executive director of the group, Mr Festus Adebayo, who made this call, noted that there has been an increasing level of land racketeering in the FCT, adding that it had become imperative to raise the alarm for the attention of those in charge of the administration to avoid the loss of investments in the nation’s capital.

In a statement sent to Nigerian Tribune in Lagos, Adebayo explained that even though there have been many fake and political developers and land racketeers, there are also many genuine developers who want to invest in the FCT but are at the risk of land racketeers.

He listed lop-sided FCT master plan and lack of detail on existing approved layouts information as parts of the challenges.

Driving the point home, he said “The master plan of FCT is in disarrays, it requires surgical operation and the FCT minister must declare a state of emergency on the FCT urban planning system.

“So many damages have been done. The system is no more going in line with those who saw the vision of the FCT and gave the master plan.

“Firstly, the number one problem with the planning of FCT is there is no detailed information on existing approved layouts, resulting in fake layouts overlapping it. This information, if it is made public can enable investors to know the right information that will save them from falling victim of land racketeers.”

“The unfortunate situation is when some bad eggs in government are supporting the business of those who are doing racketeering in destroying the FCT master plan for selfish reason,” he said

As at today, he alleged that 70 per cent of cases in courts in the FCT are land-related. This scenario, he said, has put the real estate sector in the nation’s capital at a risk.

Adebayo said that HDAN would not fold its arms and allow some criminals to destroy the real estate sector.

According to him, where there is inadequate information about the existing layout, the public will continue to fall victim to sharp practices resulting in demolition of houses all the time in some areas.

He called the government to look into the areas where the planning system of the FCT has been abused.

Adebayo explained that even with the suspension of issuance of building plan approvals to area council plots, people are still building, mostly substandard buildings and the government is losing revenue.

“Almost 70 per cent of area council plots do not have building plan approvals. A random sample survey can be done to verify this,” he said.

Before carrying out a demolition exercise, Adebayo said there has to be an order from the FCT’s Urban and Regional Planning Tribunal.

According to him, most of the estates that were products of land racketeering did not have the basic facilities required for decent shelter.

Adebayo wants the administration to create a platform for educating people on what they should know and what they should ask whenever they want to buy property in the FCT.

“We are asking the FCT to set up a new department to be called urban renewal department that will be saddled with the responsibility of redevelopment and upgrading. It will also identify areas of action and involve standards for sustainable action.

While emphasising that the minister has to declare a state of emergency before it is too late, the HDAN boss said “We are also calling on the Directors of Development Control, Urban and Regional Planning, Lands and AGIS to collaborate on how to salvage urban planning system of the FCT which land racketeers have destroyed.”