By NBF News

After working for one month investigating various cases of abuse in land administration in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Ministerial Committee on Repositioning of Land Administration in the FCT at the weekend presented its report to the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed.

From the report, a total of 18,445 plots of land were allocated between January 2007 and April 2010. Out of the total land allocated,12,816 were reportedly allocated during the last five months of Malam Nasir el-Rufai's administration, 1,040 allocated during Dr. Aliyu Modibbo administration while 4,589 were allocated during the tenure of Senator Mohammed Adamu Aliero.

However, only 445 plots have been developed out of the total number of plots allocated which is only 2.4 per cent of the total allocation.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Saidu Dansadau, who presented the report to the minister, remarked that the incidence of double allocation of land, forgery and falsification of records, which, he noted, had become 'a behemoth of monstrous proportions', was facilitated by revocation of plots without due process and non-compliance with section 28 of Land Use Act as well as complicity on the part of FCT officials.

He noted that the highest occurrence of such irregularities was traceable to the refusal to abide by the provision of Land Use Act, adding that the Land Use Act was at most a symbolic body when it existed but was hardly effective.

While stressing the need for effective Land Use and Allocation Committee to advise the FCT minister on matters of land administration in the FCT, Senator Dansadau also blamed the disarray in land administration in FCT on the current state of Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) which, according to him, remains at infancy even after seven years of its establishment and has created rooms for land manipulation.

'It is imperative to ensure that AGIS becomes more alive to its responsibilities rather than becoming a tool in the hands of fraudsters. Incomprehensive and incomplete computerisation project could be worse than a manual system,' he said

He lamented that findings by the committee revealed that most mass housing allocations done from 2004 to 2007 were not subjected to any guidelines while Lease of Agreements was not respected by both parties to the lease, adding that between 2004 and 2007, there was no mass housing guidelines to govern the scheme.

His words: 'The way and manner the mass housing programme was managed gave land speculators upper hand in the scheme at the expense of genuine property developers with tract record of performance in the sector. One of the main objectives of the mass housing was to create access to home ownership for the residents of FCT but this noble objective is far from being achieved.'

The committee chairman disclosed that the committee had recommended that making land directly available to industry players and staff cooperatives could bring down the escalating cost of housing for the benefit of the middle and low-income earners.

While receiving the report and reacting, FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, gave assurance that the report would be accorded the deserved attention, adding that decisive action would be taken promptly to address the committee's report recommendations.

He emphasised that his administration has the needed political will to implement any far reaching decision based on the committee's report, noting that the investigation was not conducted to witch-hunt anybody but reiterated his readiness not to spare whoever that is indicted by the report.