The Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA), a group representing all the indigenous people of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja said today it has read in the media the ongoing debate between northern and southern leaders on the need for a revision of revenue allocation formula and the status of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT among others.
In one of the communiqué points of its 16th March 2012 meeting held in Abuja, the Coalition of Concerned Northern Leaders, led by Dr. Junaid Mohammed made the following conclusions on the status of the FCT:
“The fiction of a so-called virgin land sold to the late General Murtala Mohammed was just that; a fictional and shameless invention by an obscure geographer from the South-West, to justify the heist of a peoples’ land. No land can be declared a virgin when it is occupied for several generations by peoples and communities. What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander. What has been the birthright of Lagosians, their land, as well as Binis, Ibadans and the Wawas of Enugu, must be applicable with full force to the peoples/communities of Abuja forthwith.
“The whole country must be put on notice that in any future constitutional amendment exercise, the North will demand that the future status of Abuja must be at the heart of that discussion. The paid agitators of a Sovereign National Conference should get prepared.”
As a coalition of all the nine tribes of the original inhabitants which make up the FCT, OIDA said it has after exhaustive deliberation among all the strata of the association, decided to give backing to the assertion by the Coalition of Concerned Northern Leaders as it is in tandem with our recent constitutional amendment memoranda submitted to the House of Representatives Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution which is scheduled for public hearing soonest.
‘As a people let down by the Nigerian federation with our basic constitutional/fundamental rights to citizenship of a state and ownership of land usurped, we are grateful that other Nigerians are beginning to see the light that Late General Murtala Mohammed was sold a BIG lie and misled by the Justice Akinnola Aguda Panel that the entire 8,000 square kilometres landmass known as the FCT was “Virgin” with no indigenous people.
‘We beg to ask that if the FCT did not have indigenous persons as the constitution may want Nigerians to believe, then why was there a resettlement policy which the Federal Government has consistently remained inconsistent in its implementation thereby leading to the policy being discarded and replaced with an integration policy?
‘Contrary to speculation in the media, mischief making by some politicians and arm-chair critics; the Federal Government of Nigeria is yet to fully compensate over ninety (90) per cent of the original inhabitants whose lands were forcefully taken for the establishment of the Federal Capital Territory. We stand to be corrected by any documentary evidence either by the government or any group.
The group also said the Federal Government has therefore violated the constitutional provision in Chapter IV, Section 44, Sub-section (1) of the 1999 Constitution which says “No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law that, among other things –
(a) requires the prompt payment of compensation therefor; and
(b) gives to any person claiming such compensation a right of access for the determination of his interest in the property and the amount of compensation to a court of law or tribunal or body having jurisdiction in that part of Nigeria.”
Also, Chapter II, Section 17, subsection 3(a) says “The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that- all citizens, without discrimination on any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment;”
The people of FCT whose major preoccupation is farming have had their farmlands and homes taken over by the Nigerian Government thereby leaving us without any adequate means of livelihood which would have been taken care of if we were initially compensated FULLY and at our own terms as enshrined in Chapter IV, Section 44, Sub-section (1b) of the 1999 Constitution.
‘After awaiting the unfulfilled promise(s) of a better life by the Nigerian Government for about thirty six years to no avail, the indigenous people of FCT have decided they will no longer allow the heist of their lands or heist of their constitutional rights to elect those who should govern them at the second-tier level of government all in the name of providing a nation’s capital that has continued to be a sore to their collective pride rather than a source of succor.
‘In fact, we feel our situation is even precarious than that of other Nigerians like the Niger Deltan’s who will still have their lands when the oil fields dry up while ours will be perpetual landlessness, if things continue as there are presently.
‘Since the Federal Government has not fully compensated the over 1.5 million original inhabitants spread in 858 villages and towns within the territory, and due to a couple of court judgments which say “the Federal Government cannot claim ownership of lands in the FCT which have not been duly compensated to the original inhabitants in line with the customary title deeds of land ownership,” we the indigenous people of the Federal Capital Territory will like to put the country on notice in the following areas:
- That while we shall still concede the 1,600 square kilometres of the Federal Capital City as drawn out in the Abuja Masterplan to Nigeria as the capital city of the nation, we are asking for the remaining 6,400 square kilometres of the larger Federal Capital Territory to be declared a state status for the original inhabitants of the territory. When done, this will be in tandem with what was done for Lagos in 1967 where General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) declared the entire Lagos Island and surrounding environs as the nation’s capital while Lagos Mainland was carved out and declared a state with the capital located in Ikeja, after being merged with certain parts of the old Western Region.
- That after being given a state status, none of our original inhabitants of Abuja will claim ownership of the Federal Capital City, FCC as all indigenous people will be located in the new state which we have tentatively named GBAKKA State, an acronym formed from the first letters of the present six Area Councils in the territory.
- That by having a state status, the Nigerian government would have restored our constitutional and fundamental rights as citizens of a particular state of the federation instead of our present level of “statelessness.” All citizens other than the original inhabitants of the FCT are already enjoying their citizenship and its benefits in the Nigerian nation.
To effect these changes in the constitution, we have already sent our memoranda (as advertised) to the National Assembly for the repeal of Decree 6 of 1976.
The statement today signed by Danladi Jeji President, OIDA said , the people of the Federal Capital territory are not asking for much but only following the spirit of the constitution which states in Section 299 that “The provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as if it were one of the States of the Federation.” Many courts across the country have in their judgments attested to the fact that FCT is indeed a state due to this constitutional provision.
‘We therefore salute the courage of the Coalition of Concerned Northern Leaders for supporting this worthy cause. We further call on all peace-loving Nigerians to support our struggle for an all-inclusive and egalitarian society where every Nigerian counts.
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