The Nigerian Army says it legally acquired its landed property in parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and advised indigenes protesting alleged land grab to channel their complaints to the appropriate quarters.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai stated this on Tuesday in reaction to protest by some indigenes, who barricaded the Air Port road, alleging the army grabbed their land.
Buratai spoke at the foundation laying ceremony for construction of the “Army Command Estate and Headquarters, Directorate of Army Legal Services’’ at Muhammadu Buhari Cantonment at Giri on the air port road.
It said their action would not yield any result.
“This particular estate (land) was granted to the Nigerian army in 1979.
“However, we got the official allocation with the Right of Occupancy (C of O) in 1997 by the Federal Capital Administration.
“In 2011, when all land in the territory were revoked and owners of land were directed to re-certify their land, the Nigerian army along with other services, Navy and Air Force, we duly applied for the re-certification.
“We paid the dues that was meant for the re-certification and got our acknowledgement. That is to say that we have legally and timely certify this particular land,’’ Buratai said.
He said that all the documents of the land were with the Abuja Geographical Information Service – AGIS, of the FCT.
“So, any move to disrupt our activities here (ongoing construction work on the land) is going to be fruitless. We have all the legal backing,’’ the army chief said.
Buratai advised those alleging the army grabbed their land to channel to their complaint to the appropriate quarters rather than protesting and barricading highways.
“They (protesters) should not allow themselves to be deceived and take the laws into their hands,’’ he said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that construction of structures is already ongoing in the over 4,000 hectares of land to accommodate newly established Headquarters of Army Aviation Corps, Women corps, Space Command, as well as officers and soldiers quarters.
Also located in the land is headquarters of the Nigerian army’s Farms and Ranches Ltd.
A coalition of FCT indigenous associations had recently been accusing the army of grabbing their land and protested to the National Assembly over the issue.
They had also protested to the office of the Minister of FCT, calling for his intervention.
They alleged that the army wanted to collect their land located at Zuba, Iddo, Sabo and Tuga Maje, all on Airport Road.
NAN also reports that Buratai used the occasion to charged officers and men on the need to make sure the country was kept safe and secured, and continued support for the administration.
He reminded them of the strategic importance of the military in democratic dispensation, adding that they “must defend democracy.’’
“We are much, much better in democracy than any other system. We must ensure that we perform our constitutional responsibilities with all the seriousness it deserves.
“We must all ensure that all our ongoing operations are stepped up.
“The insecurity that we are facing in the North East and other parts of the country require more initiative and require us to think of the box to get the right solution,’’ he said.