Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Barrister Nyesom Wike, has directed that the plot of land on which a two-storey building collapsed yesterday, August 24, killing two persons, should be taken over by the government immediately.
The Minister, who visited the site of a collapsed building on Lagos Street, Garki II District yesterday, also ordered the arrest of the owner of the building.
The Minister condemned the act of building without approved plan, in response to the comment by the Director Development Control, Town planner, Mukhtar Galadima that the area is an unplanned settlement for the original inhabitants of the FCT.
“When government says take building plan, it is not as if government wants to take action, it is not as if government wants to suffer anybody. It’s to make sure that everybody is protected, that cities are planned and to forestall this kind of incident.
“Imagine a building without approval. I will ask that we must identify and arrest the owner of this property. It is very important and then of course the government will take over the area and make sure no further development is carried out here.”
Wike stressed the importance of fast-tracking the issues of resettlement to forestall a reoccurrence of such unfortunate incident.
He said that the difficult decisions which government is making are not aimed at victimizing anybody but to promote the overall safety and wellbeing of the people
“It’s so unfortunate that we woke up this early morning to hear this very saddening news. It is not what we contemplated. We had our schedule for this morning before we were told.
“Let me thank the agencies, particularly FEMA that supported us to rescue not less than 32 lives. It’s unfortunate for the two that are dead. I will say to the Permanent Secretary to make sure that funds are raised to pay the hospital bills of those who were rescued because we don’t want to hear that another person has passed and that should be done immediately.”
The Minister reiterated the need for compliance with building codes and regulations reminding residents that decisions and actions of government were for public good.
“These are the things we have been saying. Nobody knows whose turn it will be and therefore it is important that when government says that they will take action on certain areas that we believe they are illegal developments or even buildings that do not comply with the standard, it’s not as if anybody has any personal vendetta.
“But for God, we would have lost virtually everybody, and this is what we are trying to cure.”
On the resettlement of the indigenous population, the Minister emphasized the need to properly resettle them saying: “I do not know why it has taken so long that the FCTA did not resettle them. I’m sure we will take immediate action to see that indigenes of this area are resettled and then government has to plan this place.
He called for the cooperation of all stakeholders, saying that government actions which although could be uncomfortable is ultimately for public good.
“I want all the stakeholders here to please work with government. It is for the interest of everybody. Nobody has come here to say I don’t like A, I don’t like B, I like C, no. I know sometimes the government’s decision may not be too comfortable for the people but at the long run, it is for the interest everybody.
“Now that all of us have gathered here, who is happy? Nobody is happy and these are the things we are trying to forestall. Once more, I sympathize with those who have lost their lives and government will take all the bills for those who are alive.
The Minister was accompanied on the visit by the Minister of State, Dr. Mariya Mahmoud the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Olusade Adesola, the Executive Secretary, FCDA, Engr. Shehu Hadi Ahmad, amongst others.
The building which collapsed on Wednesday night is a two-floor structure which serves both residential and commercial purposes.