Land tussle: Abuja natives dare UniAbuja
Original inhabitants of Giri-Kpesere in Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT have challenged authorities of the University of Abuja to take them to court if indeed the disputed land in Giri belongs to the institution.
For years now, the university has accused land speculators of encroaching into its 11,800 hectares land at its permanent site, with natives at the Giri-Kpesere end of the land said to be illegally occupying some portion of the institution’s land.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na'Allah, had in July, at a meeting with some members of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, vowed to take necessary steps to challenge the alleged encroachers.
Na’Allah, while declaring war against the encroachers, lamented that the encroachment has prevented the university from making use of the land.
“They need to know that we are declaring a war. We want to stop people from encroaching on our land so that we can use it for meaningful development.
“Let these people know that we are going to challenge them. We shall use all legitimate means and power to claim our rights by getting back our land from them - whether they are our staff or outsiders- whoever they are, we will get our land and stop them from further encroaching on it,” he had vowed.
He said it was unacceptable for the university to be treated by the encroachers as tenant in its own land, stressing that his administration would no longer tolerate such audacity.
Indigenes of the Giri-Kpasere village are, however, challenging the institution’s claim to their community saying the land is their ancestral home and are ready for a showdown with the university if they insist on displacing them.
The village head of the community, Mr. Isah Egari, told The Abuja Inquirer that only the courts can resolve the protracted land dispute or order them out of the village.
Chief Egari, who spoke with our correspondent during a demolition of marked buildings along water channels in Giri, said the university has not shown any proof of ownership of the disputed land.
“Then why can’t University of Abuja report of to the court of law? If the land belongs to them they should take us to court not verbally laying claim to the land.
“We are waiting for them. They should stop threatening us because our fore fathers have been on this land way before the university came into existence.
“The river bridge right before our village is the physical boundary between we and the university so I don’t understand how they will still be laying claim to our community.”
When told that the university staff quarters is located after the Giri-Kpesere towards Gwagwalada, the village head insisted that the staff quarters originally belonged to the FCT Administration.
“That the staff quarters is located there still doesn’t make all the lands in between theirs. The quarters was originally FCDA quarters before it was ceded to the university. Will you say all the land from here to the mini campus of the university belongs to them simply because the mini campus is located in Gwagwalada town? It is all about land allocation and we are waiting for them to come claim our land,” he stated.
The permanent site is home to the Administrative Building, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Management Science, the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Agriculture, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and College of Medicine are on the main campus.
More faculties are expected to relocate to the main campus from Gwagwalada in due course.
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