Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Adamu Aliero, was on Monday blamed for the feud between the Nigerian Army and some civilians including a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Azibaola Roberts, over the Maitama Extension land in Abuja.
The revelation came to the open during a public hearing organised in respect of the land dispute by the Senate Committee on FCT, headed by Senator Dino Melaye.
Incumbent minister of the FCT, Alhaji Mohammed Bell, who made the disclosure in his submission before the committee, said that Senator Aliero, who was minister between 2007 and 2010, was responsible for the allocation of some plots of land already allocated to the military in the Maitama Extension axis.
The minister stated that the land in question, which totalled 238 hectares, was originally allocated to the Nigerian Army in 1996, but added that the former minister allocated a part of it to some civilians and retired military officers in 2009. He stated that Aliero allocated some 600 plots of the land to some privileged civilians and retired military officers without legally revoking the allocation made to the military in 1996.
According to him, the administration of retired Lt –General (now Senator) Jeremiah Useni was responsible for the allocation of the land to the military.The FCT minister said: “I want to just mention that the area in contention was actually an area earmarked for the Nigerian Army under the Guards Brigade, way back in 1996.
“Sometime in 2009, plot allocations were made there and commitments were undertaken by the FCTA in terms of infrastructure. Allocated plots, from our records, numbered about 600 plots out of which Certificate of Occupancy (C-of- O) have been issued to about 200.
“Payments of about N5.6 billion have been received aside commitment of about N9billion already made in respect of providing infrastructure in the area out of estimated N23 billion.”
The minister appealed to the Senate Committee to give the FCT and the Army some time to resolve the problem.
He said: “At the end of the day, we would be able to reach a solution to meet the needs of the military and of course ensure also that those who were allocated plots in the area, in terms of financial commitments, do not lose their commitments.”
He also said that the FCT authorities were already identifying all military lands in the territory so as to avoid similar encroachment in the future.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt- General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, in his remarks acknowledged that the military and the FCT were already discussing.
He also said that the military would soon relocate from its temporary locations once it identifies the lands legally allocated to it.
On the disputed land, he said: “The location is quite strategic and couldn’t have been planned for cohabitation with the civilian populace.”
While commenting on the issue, Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT, Senator Dino Melaye, said that the FCT and the Army should ensure that the resolution they would adhere to takes into consideration the needs to protect the interests of the civilians who had invested in the disputed land.