The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration in 2004 under Mallam Nasir El-Rufai harmonized all land within Abuja under the jurisdiction of the Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) and the department of Development Control. While AGIS allocates lands, Development Control approves designs for construction. Before then, Area Councils in the FCT had their separate authorities empowered to allocate lands and approve designs.
Investigations have revealed that most of the Area Councils in Abuja now resort to back- dating of land allocation papers and design approvals for lands originating from them through illegal means which is a crime by FCT present standard. Anyone finding out about any land allocation and approval for designs where Area Council lands are involved in the FCT needs to do unofficial Search internally at the Area Councils as there is presently no more official Search in any of the Area Councils in the FCT.
Most people have had problem getting genuine land in Abuja due to ignorance or in desperate move to defraud government and individuals from the known three categories of lands available in Abuja. The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) Land and Mass Housing lands are located within phase one, two, three and four of the FCT and it is much easier to deal with through verification from AGIS in a form of a Search. There is proper documentation and it is the origin of the allocation with the district infrastructure certain to be executed by the FCDA and developmental approval is sure from the Development Control department.
The dealings in Area Council lands in the FCT presently are quite complicated with the present harmonized FCT administration on lands which are fraudulently being back dated. Swindlers capitalize on the ignorance of people to smile to their bank accounts. In a similar development, the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee investigating land scam in the FCT, was once told about how a company used in defrauding land buyers in Abuja is owned by a couple who were both staff of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The couple who are the two Directors in Dynamy Nigeria Limited (the company allegedly used for land scam in Abuja), allegedly used the FCT Commandant’s office of the NSCDC in Abuja to sell land plots to unsuspecting members of the public. Over 186 allotees were said to have been swindled by the couple whose names were given as Mr and Mrs Edike Daniels. Little wonder when it was alleged that the FCT administration is a major centre of fraud and corruption characterized by “forgeries and clonings of land document,” as suggested by a report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The commission made this observation in a report titled “Summary of the Report of the Systems Study and Review of Lands Administration in the Federal Capital Territory” and presented publicly to the FCT Minister at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja. This report, which was published after six months of comprehensive review of the FCT administration, identified thirteen “corruption red flags” in the FCT. These include “forgeries and cloning of land documents, allocation of plots of land made without the FCT Ministers’ approval, presence of undeveloped plots of land in districts with engineering infrastructure, and missing of land documents in AGIS and Land Administration department.” Other red flags include “existence of land syndicates and speculators, revocation of certain land titles without due process, fake layouts and fraudulent allocations in Area Councils, differences in land use in the records of AGIS and Urban and Regional Planning Department.”
The remaining observations in the FCT administration are file scams in AGIS and land administration department, delays in processing land documents, AGIS payment scam, complaints about ‘pressures from well-connected individuals and groups’ on staff to circumvent laid-down procedures and presence of touts around the premises of AGIS land administration department and similar establishments.
This report also identified “too much power in the hands of the FCT Minister as one of the “predisposing factors for corruption in land administration in the FCT”. Some of the 17 factors which allow corruption to thrive in the FCT, according to the report, are “the huge discretionary powers given the FCT minister under the Land Use Act of 1978 and the FCT Act of 1976; the excessive discretional powers of the director of land administration department in determining which land applications are fully processed for ministerial approval; and the lack of policy documents and standardized procedures regarding land administration processes.”
The report also reveals that AGIS staff, the Land Administration Department, and the Department of Development Control are blameworthy of “abuse of power, conflict of interest, bribery, fraud, and favouritism” among “negative acts” that have “high probability of occurrence in their operations.” In order to ensure transparency and eliminate corruption in the FCT administration, several steps which have been categorized into short term (in three months), medium term (in six months), and long term (in 12 months and beyond) were recommended by the ICPC.
Some of the recommendations include the development of “a customized corruption prevention plan,” carrying out “independent audits of some FCT agencies,” and institution of “internet based e-governance.” The public presentation also served as an opportunity for other anti-corruption chiefs to talk about corruption in the FCT administration. Ibrahim Lamorde, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), also lamented the corruption going on in the FCT land administration. He was quoted to have said that one thing the anti-corruption agencies are worried about is land administration in the Federal Capital Territory. The EFCC boss explained that his commission had gotten and was investigating several allegations of scam and corruption involving land in the FCT. “It is the biggest scam that is going on now in the Federal Capital Territory,” he had said.
The acting chairman of the ICPC, Ekpo Nta, while speaking about the worrisome trend of corruption in the FCT land administration, stated that his commission would not relent after the system review. He assured that having done this study and submitted it to the FCT, staff should not believe that it is the end and urged all involved not to refuse to bend to system review as failure to adhere will be straighten up by enforcement of the law.
In a related development, an alleged fraudster who attempted to fraudulently assume ownership of a prime plot of land in the Maitama district of Abuja, belonging to a member of the famous Dantata family of Kano, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Mohammed Awwal alias Nasiru Abdulkadir Dantata. He was arrested by operatives of the Commission sequel to a report from the Department of Land Administration, Federal Territory Administration (FCTA) Abuja. The suspect was allegedly parading himself as Nasiru Abdulkadir Dantata, was in possession of the original Right of Occupancy of Plot No. 2068 Cadastral Zone A05, Maitama District, Abuja, along with several other forged documents.
Upon his arrest and subsequent investigation, ‘Nasiru Abdulkadir Dantata’ was discovered to be the same as Mohammed Awwal but assumed the false identity of Dantata in a desperate bid to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public into believing that he is the bona fide owner of title to the property. Several forged and incriminating documents and two international passports bearing different names were alleged to have been recovered from his house upon a search executed after his arrest. In one of the passports, the suspect with the name Mohammed Awwal is said to be a native of Katsina while he bears Nasiru Abdulkadir Dantata in another passport in which he claims to be from Kano State.
He was also alleged to be in possession of a suspicious local government indigene certificate where he bears the name Haruna Lawal Muhammed, from Batsari local government area of Katsina State. While investigation into land scams in Abuja continues on a daily basis, fraudsters business on lands are still on the high side.
– Mike Igene