Natives of Tunga Maje in the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) Abuja have raised the alarm what they called the illegal invasion of their lands by the Nigerian Army. They raised their voices in a protest they staged against the Nigerian army in Abuja.
The protesters said they are original indigenes of Abuja and that their farmlands are being forcibly taken over by the army without adequate compensation.
In their numbers, the native people moved out to receive the Commissioner Public Complaints Commission ( PCC ) representing FCT, Dalhatu Musa Ezekiel who was at the community for the on-the-spot assessment.
Speaking on behalf of Tunga Maje and other communities on Thursday, Comrade Adamu Ishiaku lamented the killing of their people by the military in an attempt to illegally take over their lands.
He said the military did not only destroy their farm produce but now destroying their houses and properties to intimidate them.
According to Ishiaku ” We have been living in a state of intimidation. After the Nigerian Army destroyed our plants and farm produce and they are now destroying our houses.. Some of our people have been killed and beaten. They have put pegs around our houses and we are now living in fear on our own lands.’
The PCC Commissioner while addressing the protesters said the matter has continued to linger since 2009 despite the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari ordering the Nigerian army to vacate the land.
He said he was in the community to see things by himself noting that the Nigerian army has no business on the land on the ground that the land was not allocated to them.
According to Dalhatu ” We are here again in Tunga Maje as a result of complaints that we received from the entire people of Tunga Maje community for the continuous intimidation, harassment and wanton destruction of properties of these indigenous people of these communities.
“This matter is not new, this matter has been lingering since 2009 when the Nigerian Army came to take over this land. I am sure and is on record where the FCT Minister, National Assembly and Presidency attention were drawn to this lingering issue.
“Recently also I have heard Mr President gave a directive that the Nigerian army should vacate that land forthwith and that part of it about 12,000 hectares has been earmarked for Nigerian Aviation for onward development of phase of the airport. But as we speak development is still going on by the Nigerian Army.
“They have now graduated from destroying their farm produce which is their only means to earn a living to destroying their houses.
“I decided not to sit in the comfort of my office as Commissioner but to come down to the spot and see by myself if what they are saying is true or not and they have taken me round and shown me the pegs that have been planted by the military,” he said.
The Commissioner said the PCC would resist the moves by the Nigerian Army to forcefully take over their lands adding that there are procedures for engagement that must be followed by the government institutions before taking over any land.
He said the military could not treat the owners of Abuja as refugees on their own land.
He, therefore, called on the Minister of FCT to engage the President and work out a plan for the amicable resolution of the matter. He also called for adequate compensation of the natives, noting that the Public Complaints Commission would use its constitutional power to resist any move to infringe on the rights of the natives.
”Besides finding has shown especially from the Minister of FCT the Nigerian army was never at a point allocated this land which goes to say that they are operating illegally. I have spoken with the community leaders and youths and asked them not to take the law into their hands. They should remain obedient to the law of the land and not do anything that will bring civil unrest in the communities,” Dalhatu added.