Rattled by reports the new Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike plans to demolish 6,000 houses, his office has come out to deny them.
On the night of the denial, a building under construction on Lagos Street in the Garki District of the city, smack opposite the Garki Police Station, came crashing down. Two persons are said to be dead while 37 are receiving treatment in various hospitals.
It is suspected there were structural defects on the building that made it unable to withstand Wednesday night’s heavy rains.
Recall, the Minister in his maiden press conference announced his plans to rid the city of Abuja of illegal structures and stop land racketeering.
Since his announcement as FCT Minister, fears have been expressed, and in many cases skits and images of his planned actions have filled the social media.
He later told senior staff of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) that anyone who did not want a high blood pressure on account of his pressure on them, should let him know so they could be posted out.
Despite his office’s denial, illegal structures, houses, and inappropriate buildings in the Federal Capital City of the Territory are put at thousands. Just weeks ago, before Wike’s appointment and resumption, more than one thousand structures were pulled down in the Gishiri area of the city.
However, in a statement on Wednesday titled STOP THE MISCHIEF, MISINFORMATION: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON FALSE PUBLICATIONS AND BROADCASTS ON PURPORTED ABUJA DEMOLITIONS AND THE USE OF A N300M BULLETPROOF CAR BY THE FCT MINISTER, the director of press in his office, Anthony Ogunleye, said:
“We are compelled to address recent news articles in the media, that claimed that the new FCT Minister, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, is embarking on a demolition spree targeting 6000 houses across 30 settlements in Abuja as well as the Wadata Plaza.
“We would like to categorically state that these stories are entirely false and without any basis in reality.
“The story on demolition of 6000 houses was reported by a national daily newspaper on the 22nd of August 2023 with the caption “Abuja land: FG may revoke land allocations, demolish 6000 buildings, slums” while another mainstream newspaper also published this highly irritating story: “Wadata Plaza will go down, Reactions trail Wike’s demolition threat”.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Minister did not in any of his pronouncements list the areas or the number of illegal houses to be removed, rather his emphasis has always been that illegal settlements and structures would be removed for the greater good of the public.
“Equally vexing is the headline from a reputable broadcast station saying, “I will fix Abuja in 6 days” and attributed same to the FCT Minister. We wish to state quite clearly that at no time did the Honourable Minister say this or allude to this phrase in any way. This headline therefore, is borne purely out of mischief.
“The Honourable Minister has consistently demonstrated a commitment to responsible urban development and the welfare of the people even while he was the governor of Rivers State, a commitment he has assured residents within the FCT since he assumed office as Minister. The claim that he is orchestrating large-scale demolitions is not only inaccurate but also lacks credibility
“Such sensationalist reporting not only misleads the public but also undermines the vital role that accurate and well-researched journalism plays in our society.
“It is important to remember that the development and maintenance of the FCT is guided by carefully crafted policies and regulations, with a focus on sustainable urban growth and the preservation of residents’ rights. Any decisions made in this regard are rooted in comprehensive assessments, community consultations, and adherence to the rule of law.
“On the other hand, the story on the 300M bulletproof car was credited to an online auto blog with the caption: “This ₦300M Armored Lexus LX 600 fitted with ‘FCT – 01’ reportedly belong to FCT Minister, Wike”.
“In a swift reaction, the Minister, who spoke today, 23rd August, 2023 during his first project tour at the Abuja Metro station stressed that the vehicle was not bulletproof as claimed but a regular SUV.
“We encourage journalists, bloggers and media outlets to exercise responsible journalism by verifying information from authorised sources before disseminating it to the public. Fabricated stories, such as the ones in question, only serve to damage the reputation of respected public figures and create unnecessary anxiety amongst the citizenry.
“We want to emphasize that the Honourable Minister remains steadfast in his dedication to improving the quality of life for all residents of the FCT. Any claims to the contrary are purely the result of misinformation and should be treated as such.”
On the building collapse, one in many in the last few years in Abuja, the director-general of the FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Dr. Abbas Iddriss, said, “Rescue team and others are on the ground. Rescue operations are on but slowly due to ongoing rain. They are making frantic efforts at getting an excavator to remove people from the rubble,” he had stated late Wednesday night.
He commended the efforts of all stakeholders working hard manually to rescue trapped persons, including members of the community adding that rescue missions have continued while they await the arrival of equipment to enhance the operations
A combined team of FEMA, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), FCT Police Command, and the VIO have intensified efforts to search for more victims who were still trapped under the rubbles.