The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has waded into the lingering land dispute between the Nigerian Army and the original FCT inhabitants, appealing to both parties to sheath their swords and give peace a chance to allow the authorities continue in its efforts towards a permanent solution to the problem.
While addressing the original inhabitant on Monday, the FCT Permanent Secretary is doing his best and meeting with all stakeholders with a view to ensuring a comprehensive solution was reached on the matter.
According to him, “Officials of the FCT Administration, myself, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence and some Army personnel have been meeting since last week to resolve this problem.
“So we are doing our best to make sure that we resolve this matter comprehensively. The FCT Minister is doing his best. You know he is a man of action.
“We have also met with security agencies. So it is wrong to say that we are doing nothing. Our directors were there, representing and informing us directly of what was happening on ground and we have continued to carry out extensive consultations to make permanent peace.
“Our doors are always open to consultations with the original inhabitants towards moving the FCT forward. It could have been better if you had come with your people to consult with us on how to solve this matter.
“It is not fair that you brought in your people and blocked the entrance to the Secretariat. If we all use force, society will not know peace and will not have order.
“We all need security to protect your lives and property, and also our territorial integrity. There is no way your land will be taken without due consultation. Abuja is the Centre of Unity -you have a stake, I have a stake, the Army has a stake, so we need constant consultation.
“We have also set up a committee to broadly look into the matter and we are expecting reports from the committee so we call on all parties to remain calm. Please, we have a civilised way of doing things. It is better for us to jaw-jaw than to war-war.”
Representatives of the original inhabitants who spoke earlier during the meeting with the FCTA management and security agencies, decried that they were not aware that their land had been allocated to the Nigerian Army, adding that all crops on the land were destroyed.
According to Alhaji Adamu Isiaka who led the protest, the Army brought in bulldozers and forcefully took the land from them, leaving them with no option than to come out for a peaceful protest, which led to death of one of their own.
Isiaka appealed that if the government would take their ancestral land from them, it should be done with consultation, but not forcefully “because it is our ancestral home.”
Another speaker and President of the Abuja Original Inhabitants, Isaac David, also stated that the Army has no document to support their claim of ownership of the disputed land in Tungan Maje, even as he appealed to the Administration to compel the Army to leave their land.
The meeting agreed to reconvene in the next one week to comprehensively resolve the matter.