Federal Capital Territory FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike on Wednesday explained his decision to engage Senior Advocates of Nigeria SAN to help handle cases involving the Administration, lamenting that lack of diligent prosecution of cases in the past by FCT officials led to the loss of numerous cases.
Noting that there are currently over 800 litigations involving the FCT, Wike alleged complicity on the part of certain officials who connived with plaintiffs to get judgments against the FCT Administration.
“I have never seen a territory with over 800 litigations. Some of these litigations were in connivance with staff of the FCT. So, I said I will engage SANs because I don’t want a situation whereby someone will go to court and then agree with the plaintiffs and judgment is entered against the FCT”, Wike said when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on the FCT to defend the Administration’s N61 billion Supplementary Budget.
The minister who said the budget components are projects-specific, added that President Bola Tinubu would commission most of them including the Abuja Metroline by May as part of activities marking the president’s one year in office.
He said; “Mr President will commission the metroline by May. If you look at the national budget, there is a provision for the rail project”.
On security, the minister said the Administration would revive the city’s mass transit system to eliminate cases of “one chance”, adding that private operators would undergo security vetting before being allowed into the system.
He said he was working with the Office of the National Security Adviser ONSA and the State Security Services SSS with regards to providing Closed Circuit Television CCTV cameras in strategic parts of the city.
‘We can’t stop demolitions’
Responding to a question on the fate of victims of the Administration’s demolition exercises, the minister said Nigerians cannot desire a world-class federal capital territory and then make excuses for unplanned and illegal developments.
Noting that demolitions could not be stopped as long as people continue to build on green areas, water and sewage lines and other unapproved places, he said the Administration would however pay compensation in areas designated for resettlement.
He said; “We can’t stop demolitions. You cannot go and build in a green area and then when we demolish, you want us to compensate you. Illegality is illegality. But if we want to acquire your property for development, we will pay you”.
Wike also vowed to cancel some Public Private Partnerships PPPs entered into by the Administration with some private developers, saying those arrangements had been used to fleece the administration of billions in the past.
“I will cancel several PPPs. All the PPPs in Abuja is about land and is against the FCT”, he said .
He cited a case in Wassa where the Administration gave the developer land for mass housing, gave him another N85 billion for infrastructure, lamenting that the developer would go and build houses, sell to people at market value without anything coming to the Administration. “We will cancel it”, he declared.
The minister also restated his position on the recertification of all Certificates of Occupancy.
“All C of Os will be recertified and you will put your NIN. In FCT, there is a lot of fake C of Os but with this new development, we will end that and security wise, we can know people who own each structure. If you have C of Os and you have enjoy recertified, it will no longer be valid”, he stated.
The N61 billion FCT Supplementary Budget was drawn from its Paris Club refund, PAYE, the N5 billion special presidential intervention for states, the presidential infrastructure support funds and the territory’s Internally Generated Revenue IGR.
Chairman of the House Committee on FCT, Hon. Muktar Betara who lauded the minister for his passion to develop the territory, however urged him to reconsider the uniform fees for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, saying highbrow areas like Asokoro, Maitama, Wuse and others cannot have the same fees with the satellite towns.