A group has asked the Federal Capital Territory Administration to stop the demolition of houses in Abuja and repossess empty ones for distribution to the homeless.
The group urged the administration to put an “end to the ongoing demolitions and forced evictions ravaging the Capitals City, which has left many tens of thousands of residents homeless.”
According to a statement by the People’s Alternative Political Movement (TPAP-M), the demolitions, ostensibly done to sanitise the FCT, has only brought more pain and anguish to people who only want a roof over their heads while trying to earn a living.
“This inhumane demolition policy which is claimed to be targeted at illegal structures that are violating the Abuja Master Plan has been in place since as far back as 2006 when it reportedly displaced up to 800,000 residents who had to move out of Abuja.
“A decade and a half after, the demolitions are still being repeated and this shows that this is not the way to ‘sanitise’ the capital city as the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the FCT Ministerial Task Force on City Sanitation claim to be doing.”
The group also accused the FCT administration of reselling the lands taken during the demolitions to “establishment politicians and big real estate companies who build housing estates that are not affordable to the average Abuja resident leaving those estates empty and unoccupied.”
Asokoro and Maitama areas are prominent for posh houses without occupants.
“We recommend the repossession and reallocation of Abuja’s empty houses and estates to the poor and homeless working people,” the statement read.
Recently, federal legislators instituted a committee to look into issues of fraud related to real estate in Nigeria and also unaffordable housing in the FCT.
According to statement, the demolitions which recently ravaged Bwari, Dutse, Kubwa, Lungun, Lugbe, Mpape, Nyanya, and Iddo, were done under heavy militarisation and without prior warning or notice to the affected victims, making it impossible for residents to salvage their properties in the structures before they are demolished.
In places where residents resisted, like in Iddo and Lungu, armed military and paramilitary officials arrested and detained the residents.
“TPAPM is demanding the FCT Ministry to place a moratorium on all of the evictions and demolitions while also disbanding the cruel Task Force on City Sanitation, until decent social housing has been provided for all the people of Abuja.
“Additionally, we demand a more inclusive, equitable, participatory and representative urban planning and development management process be instituted, with residents involved in the decision making and implementation processes regarding housing and urban development and planning in the FCT.”
It also demanded that an independent enquiry be immediately commissioned into the land allocation and urban development processes in the FCT to identify and punish culprits.
It noted that the situation of poverty, insecurity and unemployment across the country, explains why young and working people are migrating down to urban Abuja where there seems to be greater opportunities and safety.
“Policies that do not make provision for this mass of our people but instead pull down their houses, criminalise their livelihoods, and leave them at the mercy of the elements will only replicate and amplify those crises in Abuja, rather than address and ameliorate them.”
It also proposed a regulation of the maximum amount of rent to fit with the standard of living and the average earnings of the people, and a repossession of housing estates that disobey that regulation and are consequently empty and unoccupied.
According to the group, the regulation of rent and repossession of housing estates will not only make the lives of Nigerians working in the FCT easier, “repossession of estates that are empty after this regulation can serve as the basis of a social housing system for residents who are homeless, who live in poor inhumane habitation, or those who need to be moved before urban development requires demolitions of their homes.”
“While these are temporary measures, we believe the final solution to the housing crises in Abuja is that the FCT Ministry builds mass social housing for the people and ends the housing scarcity once and for all,” TPAM said.
The group also proposed that as a way of curbing corruption and fraudulent processes in the land and housing sector, an inventory and registry of properties be undertaken and established, inclusive of a property identification process and mechanism.