Abuja Indigenes Protest ,Seek ‘Special Status’ for FCT

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As the nation prepares for public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution, the indigenous people of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja say they are seeking the democratization of governance in the Territory in a “special status” format that will accommodate a second-tier system of government.They staged a protest in Abuja to draw attention to the plight of the people

In a press release, the Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja, OIDA, an organization representing several indigenous groups in the FCT said “in recognition of section 299 of the 1999 Constitution which states 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’and the Court of Appeal interpretation of the status of Abuja as a STATE (refer to OKOYODE vs FCDA), we would like to inform Nigerians and the world at large that we have submitted our memoranda to both the House of Representatives and Senate for the amendment of certain clauses and provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to allow the establishment of a second-tier system of government for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and a Mayoralty for the Federal Capital City, (FCC) in a special state format.

The original inhabitants of Abuja say they are not making a demand for the creation of a new state but simply asking that Section 299 of the 1999 Constitution be fully applied in accordance with the spirit of the constitution by reversing the military contraption that Abuja, FCT is at present so that the people can enjoy their constitutional rights to vote their leaders who will govern and not administer the territory as ministers do at the moment.

The indigenes also said “despite our patience with the Nigerian government to amend all the inconsistencies in the Constitution which have led to the usurpation of our ancestral lands and disenfranchisement in electing a leader to govern us, we note with sadness that after 36 years, there has been continuous forcefuldemolition of our homes, farmlands and communities, haphazard relocations and land-grab by the Nigerian government and wealthy land speculators under different guises without human sympathy or due compensation for FCT original inhabitants.”

“Unlike other citizens of Nigeria, we are discriminated upon when seeking admission to academic institutions for ourselves or our children, our Lawyers do not have opportunities to become Chief Judges, our Civil Servants are short-changed from rising to positions of Permanent Secretaries or Head of Service and our politicians do not have opportunities of becoming Commissioners, State House of Assembly members or Governors. The development of our communities are at the mercy of strangers who are appointed as Ministers but hardly know the yearnings of our people. Our constitutional rights to self-determination have been usurped by the Nigerian state thereby rendering us stateless. In fact, we are constantly being mocked as “stateless” Nigerians or “No man’s land” by other citizens.

They continued “the appointment of an unelected Minister from any part of the country to administer the Federal Capital Territory is not only unfair to the indigenes but calculated to dehumanize and deprive them of their constitutional and fundamental human rights.Why should FCT have an Administrator who administers it while other constituent parts of Nigeria have elected Governors who govern them?” they asked.

The original inhabitants said that the FCT people are making the demand so as to “reverse the ensuing confrontation between our people and the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

While lamenting that they have been short-changed by the Nigerian government on their ancestral lands with no compensation, the Abuja natives are also demanding for 20% of all sales accruing from allocable lands and 40% of all land allocations to individuals within Abuja city.They also said major streets in the Federal Capital City should as a matter of policy, be named after FCT-indigenous heroes and traditional leaders by the government

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