Army/Kakatar land tussle: FCT minister intervenes

FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello (middle), former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife (right) and another Igbo traditional ruler when Igbo community residents in Abuja visited the FCT Minister recently.

The crisis that followed the army take-over of premises of a construction firm in Abuja, Kakatar CE Limited, over alleged encroachment may soon be over as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Musa Bello, has stepped into the matter.

The firm was awarded multibillion naira project for the provision of engineering infrastructure at Maitama Extension District of Abuja by the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) in 2012, but its premises for the project was recently sealed off by the army which cited land encroachment as reason for the invasion, although it was gathered that closeness of the premises to Lungi Barracks was beginning to pose security risk to the security facility and informed the action.

However, the action of the military has halted work at the project site since September 2.

Investigation by Abuja Xtra showed that the minister has stepped in to resolve the crisis.

Abuja Xtra gathered that Kakatar had earlier written the minister to complain about the forceful take-over of its premises.

It was gathered that the firm through its spokesman, Mr Austin Ekeinde, had complained that it was in a dilemma over the matter and that the action of the army was causing its huge losses.

Ekeinde was quoted as having said that “Kakatar is in a dilemma because we cannot fight the military or join issues with our highly esteemed client.

“We only hope and pray that both parties resolve the issue quickly so that we can mobilise to site and complete the work as scheduled,” he said.

Abuja Xtra gathered that the minister, after his attention was brought to the face-off, requested for a comprehensive report from field officers of the FCDA on the facts of the matter regarding the allocation of the contentious plots.

The order was with a view to taking informed decision since he was not abreast of the rightful owner being new at the ministry, and also as he was allegedly not informed by the army hierarchy before their action.

It was gathered that the report has already been submitted to him, awaiting his studying the document and taking necessary action.

It was further gathered that the minister has had contacts with “critical” stakeholders in the matter to assess the options available.

Checks revealed that authorities at the FCT administration had treaded with caution since the face-off between the army and the company broke out, but it was gathered that the action of the army had negatively affected the firm and the project, where the FCT administration feared that continued delay in delivering the project might lead to job variation and extra cost.

A source told Abuja Xtra that the administration expected the army to report the alleged encroachment to the Land Department of FCT Administration before taking any action.

According to the source, the administration would simply have done the needful without attracting undue media attention into the matter and incurring avoidable costs.

The source hinted that the administration was simply embarrassed by the invasion.