Senate intervenes in seizure of Jonathan’s cousin’s land

• Gives army, FCT minister two weeks to prove ownership

THE Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), headed by Senator Dino Melaye, has intervened in the controversy surrounding the piece of land seized by the Nigerian Army from Chief Robert Azibaola, cousin of former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

The army had, three weeks ago, seized the premises of Karkata Construction Company belonging to Azibaola, claiming that the land belonged to it.

But the Senate committee, after receiving a petition from the company, summoned the army and the Minister of FCT, Alhaji Mohammed Bello, to a hearing on Monday.

At the hearing, the senators directed that the army must, within two weeks, provide evidence of its ownership of the land, while the minister is also expected to provide documents to prove the real owner of the disputed land.

Army spokesman, Colonel S. K. Usman, who spoke to Nigerian Tribune three weeks ago, had said the company was occupying a land that belongs to the army, adding that it would not be allowed to retain the land.

On Monday, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, who was represented by a team led by Major-General Pat Ake, disagreed with the Minister of the FCT on the ownership of the disputed land located at Maitama extension axis of Abuja.

Senator Melaye, who presided over the meeting, said the lawmakers were dismayed  with series of petitions from members of the public and also reports in the dailies, which confirmed that the army had deployed its men to take over the 238 hectares of land spanning over 400 plots in Maitama extension district.

He stated that the seizure by the army without notification to the allottees and the minister would not be condoned by the Senate.

FCT minister, who spoke at the hearing, said ownership of lands were conferred by titles to the land, adding that the FCT would check the records and report to the Senate within two weeks.

Major-General Ake also told the committee that the army was duly allocated the land, adding that his team would furnish the Senate with relevant documents.

Senator Melaye, however, asked the army and the FCT minister to ensure justice was done, adding that all the parties should return to the committee in two weeks.