El-Rufai Threatens to sue Pointblanknews.com over UBEC Land Grab Story
All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate for Kaduna State Mallam Nasir el-Rufai has threatened to sue Pointblanknews.com over a story detailing how he converted a plot of government land into personal use.
Citing “continued contravention of the terms of development of the Right of Occupancy”, el-Rufai, who was minister of Federal
Capital Territory (FCT), on 10th May, 2005 revoked over 8500 squares of prime land belonging to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
On 28th July 2005, el-Rufai handed the plot to Inter-Projects Associates Limited, a firm believed to be a front of the former minister.
Sources told Pointblanknews.com that el-Rufai is planning to sell the property to raise money for his governorship project.
Prior to publishing the story, Pointblanknews.com placed several calls and sent text messages to the former minister on his mobile telephone lines, seeking his side of the story. He failed to respond.
However, shortly after publishing the story, el-Rufai called, threatening to “sue Pointblanknews.com in the United States and Nigeria.”
Back in 1994, el-Rufai's company El-Rufai and Partners Limited had undertaken a consultancy for the defunct National Primary Education Commission (NPEC) on the construction of an 11-storey office in the Central Business District, Abuja.
Of the four companies that put in bids to construct NPEC's office, el-Rufai had recommended Costain West Africa Limited for N400 million.
However, due to political intrigues of the General Sani Abacha regime, the contract was never awarded.
With the advent of democracy in 1999, NPEC was scrapped and replaced with Universal Basic Education (UBE). In 2004, shortly after el-Rufai was appointed FCT minister, the National Assembly passed the Act establishing UBEC.
However, few months after the law establishing UBEC took effect, el-Rufai penned a “Notice of Revocation of Undeveloped Plots Within Central Area Federal Capital Territory”.
Curiously, the one-page letter was addressed “National Primary Education, UBE Building, IBB Close, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja” , when el-Rufai well knew that Executive Secretaries headed the defunct NPEC as well as its successor UBEC.
Pointblanknews.com investigations revealed that no such letter ever got to UBEC or NPEC.
“The letter was only a cover by el-rufai to take over the land. It is akin to addressing a letter to Barclays Bank today through Union Bank, or sending a letter meant for the defunct NSO through the SSS,” submitted an official of the FCT.
The notice read, “Following the expiration of grace period granted by the Minister to the effect and complete development of your plot within the Central Area, I have been directed to inform you that the Minister of Federal Capital Territory has in the exercise powers (sic) conferred on him under Section 28 (5) (a) & (b) of the Land Use Act, 1978, revoked your rights and interest over Plot 589 within Central Area (A00) for your continued contravention of the terms of development of the Right of Occupancy.”
The letter, which was copied the Directors, Development Control, URP and that of Surveys and Mapping, was signed by one Mainasara, B. G., an assistant Chief Land Officer.
About two months after revoking Plot 589, El-Rufai, on 28th July 2005, wrote Inter-Projects Associates Limited informing the firm of its new ownership of the plot.
The “new file number” was given as MISC 80876, and the purpose “Commercial”.
Wrote el-Rufai, “I wish to refer to your application in the Accelerated Development Programme of the Federal Capital Territory and convey to you the approval of grant of Plot Number 589 in Cadastral Zone A00 of Cbd District measuring approximately 8555.00 sq. m.”
He added, “Please signify your acceptance of this offer in writing within two weeks from the date of this letter by collecting, signing and returning a Development Lease Agreement containing the terms and conditions of this offer to this office for perfection,” and thanked the firm “for your interest in developing the Federal Capital Territory.”
The letter was signed by the Director, Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS), on behalf of the FCT Minister.
In February 2009, the Senate had at the end of a painstaking probe of the El-Rufai administration, asked the FCT administration to revoke a plot of land the ministry allocated Obasanjo Farms Limited on the eve of Obasanjo's exit as president.
The Senate had also directed that the plot be returned to its “original owner” Inter-Projects Associates Limited.
However, the senators failed to realize that el-Rufai had more than passing interest in the controversial plot of land.
El-Rufai didn't tell the senators that in 1994, his firm had undertaken a consultancy for NPEC to build an 11-storey complex on Plot 589, Cadastral Zone A00, the same plot the senators asked be handed Inter-Projects Associates Limited.
The senators also didn't know that at the time of the tender evaluation report, the registered address of El-Rufai and Partners Limited was S4 Kankia Street, Ungwa-Sarki, Kaduna- the same office now occupied by the firm el-Rufai handed UBEC's land- Inter-Projects Associates Limited.
NPEC's national headquarters at the time was on 12, Ali Akilu Road, Kaduna. Its Private Mail Bag was 2328, and Alhaji Abdulsalam Abubakar Sambo its Executive Secretary.
In 1992, the FCT minister, General Gado Nasko had handed NPEC Plot 589, Cadastral Zone A00 in the Central Business District. The plot measured about 8555 square metres.
Aside NPEC, the Gado Nasko administration allocated plots of land to several other government agencies including National Universities Commission, National Commission for Colleges of Education, Nigerian National Merit Award, Public Complaints Commission.
“NPEC, UBEC and FCT are agencies of government. What sense is there in FCT seizing the land of UBEC and handing same to a private company under the guise of accelerated development?
“In any case, what has happened to the land since 2005 when el-Rufai gave it out? That is nearly 10 years ago. What 'accelerated development' have we seen on the land? The right thing to do is return to land to UBEC- the rightful owners,” submitted an FCT official.
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