Land racketeering rocks FCTA

The discovery of 189 fake companies as accomplices in land racketeering in Abuja has introduced a new twist to the unfolding sharp practices in land administration in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).Yesterday, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) through its Registrar-General (RG), Hussain Magaji, said 189 non-existing companies have been used to secure land allocation in the FCT.

He spoke on a day the FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, vowed to step on toes in the collection of ground rents from defaulting property owners.

The RG said at news conference in Abuja that the discovery followed a request from the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) for information on the status of a non-existing firm that applied for allocation.

According to him, the discovery of the non-existing company prompted the CAC to investigate the matter, a step which he said, revealed the existent of a racket involving inter-agency compromise.

He said: “Two suspects, including a lawyer, have been apprehended and a cartel involving staff of Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS), lawyers, and the commission have been identified.

“Let me use this opportunity to inform the public that one of the major milestones achieved so far since I assumed office is our ability to bust a cartel or a link of individuals that are creating havoc for the commission.

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“This cartel creates companies through collaboration with some lawyers claiming to be accredited agents of the commission and staff of AGIS to secure land allocations in the FCT and we only knew this crime after a complaint from the FCTA, asking us to verify some applications made by some entities, which turned out to be non-existent on our system.

Wike goes tough

The FCT minister warned defaulters of ground rents to take advantage of the two-week window given to offset their outstanding liabilities, failing which their allocations will be revoked.

He spoke in Abuja during a meeting with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) President, Chris Isiguzo.

Cautioning those who think his utterances border on pretence of bravery (otherwise called ‘initial gra gra’ in local parlance), Wike said “something will happen” at the end of the ultimatum for payment,

Reiterating that the era of abandoned projects in the FCT was over, the minister said: “Abandonment of projects as far as the FCT is concerned is a thing of the past. This would not have been possible without the president exiting us from the TSA (Treasury Account).

“As I speak to you, I can tell you how much we have been able to save from the IGR (Internally-Generated Revenue). There will be continuous funding of FCTA projects.”

On ground rents, the minister said: “Some people are saying what we are doing is ‘initial gra gra’, but I want to say that at the end of the day, something will happen. We will step on toes because you cannot have governance without stepping on toes. I did not make the laws but I and my colleague, the Minister of State have the political will to enforce the laws”.

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On the steps being taken to beef up FCT security, Wike said the establishment of a Joint Task Team on ‘One chance robbers’, has gone a long way in addressing the menace, as no incident has been recorded since the team began operation.

He said: “Security has improved in the FCT. Security agencies have been working round the clock to ensure that the environment remains safe. For instance, the issue of one-chance, we set up a joint taskforce and they have been working round the clock, since then no incidence has been recorded.

“The Renewed Hope agenda of Mr. President is to restore Hope to our people. The President has put modalities in place to ensure that people’s hope is renewed. So much activities are going on in Abuja.

“We are focused on our drive to increase our IGR; so, we can carry out other development”.

Source: The Nation Newspaper

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