The poor farmers that spoke to MAWA-Foundation at the FO1 area of Kubwa in Bwari Area Council of FCT, in different narratives, gave accounts of how their lands located around the Military Pension Board along Daughters of Charity Hospital were taking over without any form of compensation.
They gave accounts of how they lost ownership and control of their lands to the rich ‘the powerful’ paving way to speculators who makes huge gain in land deals, pays no property rent to the government, and makes no effort to compensate them.
In their narratives, they pointed to urbanization, growth of informal settlements across FCT, and estate developers’ drive for land acquisition and investment in public infrastructure, as major factors that have paved the way for aggressive takeover of their lands backed by the government using legislation which they say favours the rich at the detriment of the poor.
Mr. Isaac Ayuba, who claims to have lost his Banana plantation over the acquisition of his land, accused the Nigerian military ‘big boys’ of taking over his land. This is even as Ayuba said he inherited the land from his father and has relied upon it for farming and income generation.
Speaking in an angry tone, Ayuba disclosed that he got no compensation for losing his land to the super-rich who he said collected it using state influence.
Ayuba painted a gloomy picture of how his two children dropped out of school, one at the University of Abuja and the other College of Education Kubwa because he lost his Banana plantation which he claims was a major source of the income he relied upon to train them in school.
“I lost my land to top military personnel who connived with the Abuja Authority to forcefully takeover our land without any compensation,” Ayuba told MAWA.
“My children dropped out from school when the military officers took over my land making me lose my Banana plantation that was my major source of income” Ayuba added.
Mr. Gabriel Dauda, who was seen working in a block industry located opposite Daughters of Charity Hospital in the FO1 area Kubwa, told MAWA officials that he was a successful farmer before his land was taken over by those he described as powerful individuals.
Dauda who said he is married to two wives disclosed that his second wife left him with three kids when he could no longer provide for them because the only land they rely upon for farming and income generation has since been forcefully collected.
Dauda who claimed that he was forced to work in the block industry as a helper, accused the military of throwing many into huge poverty for collecting their lands.
“I now work as a labourer in this block industry because my land has been forcefully collected by the powerful without any compensation, nobody cares about the poor” Dauda told MAWA.
Mrs. Isa Julian, who spoke to MAWA close to the Military Pension’s Board at FO1 in Kubwa, accused top military men in connivance with the Federal Government of Nigeria of taking over their lands. Pointing out that the forceful acquisition of their lands has forced many into unbearable poverty.
Julian who was seen fetching water with a baby on her back, told MAWA that she resorted to menial jobs of working on construction sites to be able to feed her two kids.
Narrating how the forceful takeover of her land has impacted her, Julian said she had a large beans plantation and was in a serious farming business which gave her the leeway to generate income and take care of her family. She, however, said the acquisition of her family land by the rich has made her and other women poorer subjecting them to untold hardship.
“We have lost ownership and control of our lands, we are women farmers that rely upon lands for income generation and survival, the rich in Abuja connive with the Development Control to collect our land without any compensation,” Julian said.
In FCT, the practice is that the rich and powerful individuals pay their way into having a choice of land with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) using the Development Control to grant them the legitimate owner of the land with the original owners not compensated.
The Abuja original inhabitants (the indigenous people), FCTA, and the Federal Government of Nigeria over the decades have continued to struggle over the control and ownership of lands in FCT with the indigenous peoples being the greatest losers.
Many of the FCT indigenous people who are farmers that lost their lands to the government and the rich who purchased their land with the Development Control endorsement are now poor with many of them struggling to survive.
Even as the indigenous people have been displaced by the rich who acquired their lands, there is no effective land value tax in Abuja that creates a system to tax land and generate income that will provide public infrastructure for their well-being. They often lose out completely from all angles.
The Nigerian state has a law (the Land Use Act) that allows for the acquisition of lands for the public interest. Unfortunately, that is not the case, lands are been acquired by estate developers, the powerful rich, displacing the poor who rely on them for survival without any compensation.
A senior military officer who spoke on the issue and want his identity concealed, told MAWA that the military followed all the due process and lawfully acquired the land and wondered why some persons will accuse the government and the military of forcefully taking over their lands without adequate compensation.
In some situations, the government allows the poor to lose control and ownership of their lands. The government must ensure they are adequately compensated.
—–Audu Liberty Oseni, Coordinator- MAWA Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org