Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has inaugurated a Task Force on the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy for mass housing developments and recovery of land use contravention fees in the FCT.
According to the Director of Press (Office of the Minister), Anthony Ogunleye, in a statement, the Task Force has one month to conclude its assignment and chaired by the Senior Special Assistant to the FCT Minister on Lands, and Urban and Regional Planning, Estate Surveyor Michael O. Chinda, while the Executive Secretary, FCDA, will serve as its Secretary.
Other members of the Task Force are the Director, Department of Land, Director AGIS, Director, Department of Development Control, Director Department of Mass Housing, Director, Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Director, Department of Surveying and Mapping.
According to the FCT Minister, the purpose of setting up the Task Force is to ensure that each of the houses in the Mass Housing Estates in the FCT are granted Certificates of Occupancy (C of O)to be paid for by the allottees.
The Task Force is also charged with the task of ensuring that allottees who have contravened land use in the FCT, pay penalties to serve as deterrence. The FCT Minister lamented that a lot of residential allocations in the FCT have been converted to commercial purposes.
He explained that as much as the FCT is seeking to generate revenue to finance projects, it must also ensure that development activities are done in a controlled manner in line with the provisions of the law.
In the words of the FCT Minister, “The purpose of setting up the Taskforce is to make sure that all the Mass Housing, each of the houses own C of O and they have to pay for it. And then those who have contravened land use, those who were given approval for residential and converted it to commercial, and those who have been given for commercial and contravened by building residential, there must be penalties. And the only way people will be deterred from doing this is to make sure that we discourage them and discouraging them means that if you want to do it, you have a penalty to pay and that penalty must be severe.”
The FCT Minister also directed the Task Force to make provisions for land allottees in the Area Councils who do not have certificates of occupancy for their plots to enable them to get the land documents. He directed the Committee to advertise what is to be paid to enable them to obtain the documents.
Frowning at situations where hectares of land are allocated for mass housing development but the developers turn around to sell off the plots, he charged the Task Force to be diligent in its actions, adding that he will personally monitor its activities.
The Minister also disclosed that Zenith Bank Plc has been mandated to provide the enabling funds for the activities of the Task Force and funds collected via the task force will be deposited in the bank.
Barrister Wike further warned that he would not entertain any pleas by defaulters when the Committee begins its assignment, noting that the FCT as a non-oil state, relies on internally generated revenue to carry out development projects.
“I’m not interested in who did not comply. I don’t want anybody to write to me that please, the Task Force came, help me. I’m not going to do that. Even if I minute to you, don’t act on it. Pressure can come all over. So, even if you see my minute saying please treat, put it aside because Nigerians like to put pressure.”
Speaking on behalf of the task force, the Chairman, ESV Michael Chinda, assured that the Task Team will carry out the assignment with precision, diligence, and a high level of professionalism.
The Chairman also commended the FCT Minister for taking steps to sanitize land administration in the FCT and ensuring that land allottees are provided with requisite titles.
“We know that a Certificate of Occupancy is an indispensable requirement for land ownership. The land belongs to the government and someone cannot be on government land in perpetuity. You have to legalize your stay and this should be cheery news for property owners in Abuja.”
Noting that the distortion of the Abuja masterplan, if allowed, will encourage indiscriminate development activities, ESV Chinda warned that the Task Force will not spare anyone that is found to have contravened land use in the FCT.