Humanitarian Crisis In Abuja As Developer Renders 1000 Homeless

Humanitarian Crisis In Abuja As Developer Renders 1000 Homeless
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A humanitarian crisis is rife in Abuja as thousands of residents have been rendered homeless following the demolition of hundreds of houses in Lugbe, allegedly by the owners of River Park Estate. 

Concerned about the possibility of a breakdown of law and order, residents have, again, appealed that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and the FCT Minister, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike save the situation. 

Over the weekend, owners of the estate led by promoter Mr. Paul Odili, backed up by scores of conventional and unconventional security officers, rolled in bulldozers and other heavy equipment into CRD Layout in Lugbe, demolishing houses and destroying property. 

Reportedly in tow were scores of suspected thugs. They were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons with which they inflicted serious injuries on victims of the carnage who tried to resist them. 

Residents of the area, mostly retired civil servants and pensioners, we’re reportedly fazzed as the duty of demolishing illegal or disputed structures in Abuja is that of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA). 

Addressing journalists, community leader Mr. Abdulwasiu Mustapha accused River Park Estate boss Mr. Peter Odili of lawlessness and usurpation of the duties of the FCDA. He accused him of deploying thugs to demolish buildings and brutalise residents who tried to resist the demolition of their properties.

Mustapha played back video clips of residents showing gunshot and machete injuries they reportedly sustained while trying to ward off the thugs. 

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He demanded, “How can a private developer take the law into his own hands, invade our community with bulldozers under the protection of thugs and hoodlums with armed men wearing police uniforms, and forcibly bulldoze our homes and vandalise our properties? 

“How can a man who has already fenced off his estate, River Park Estate, suddenly wake up after several years and now claim his fence should extend beyond its current boundary and that his property extends into our community? “How can a case be in court, and Mr. Paul Odili still come and, in disregard of the pending suit, take the law into his own hands and invade the community to start demolishing houses? 

“Assuming without conceding that the property has been ceded Mr. Odili, does the law empower him to carry out the said demolition when there is a statutory body to perform that exercise?”

The community leader accused Odili of having the penchant for using high-level connections with security operatives, in cahoots with weapon-bearing thugs and hoodlums, to take over people’s properties.

“Our country is not a banana republic, and President Tinubu, the NSA, and Mr. Wike need to intervene urgently to prevent more property owners from becoming Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and creating a more significant humanitarian crisis in the FCT,” Mustapha urged.

An old resident of the community and property owner, Raphael Igu, recalled how the community took legal action in 2011 to maintain public peace, pointing out that “although the court affirmed our right to the land and dismissed the claims of the River Park Estate owner to the community, Mr. Odili has continued to harass us and invade our community with bulldozers and thugs to destroy our homes.”

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The community has sought help from various authorities, including the police and the National Assembly. Their plight was further highlighted during a public hearing on 14th May 2024, where their title documents were verified as genuine.

Odili would not readily comment on the matter. However, a top official of the RiverPark Estate absolved Odili of the attacks on the community, claiming that the demolition was “in order and followed due process.”

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