Business Hilights
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Confusion in FESTAC Phase II as EFCC swoops on land grabbers

Disquiet has engulfed owners of choice buildings in the controversial FESTAC Phase II following series of petitions and court cases bordering on abuse of allocation papers and several housing developments without due processes.

History has it that FESTAC Phase II, according to the original plan for the development of FESTAC Phase I ahead of the 1977 for the All Africa Cultural Fiesta, was to follow immediately after the event that took place at the National Theatre, but the President Shehu Shagari administration ignored the scheme. The inability of the Federal Government to develop the massive plots of land, further encouraged the original landowners to start making inroads into retaking the land even with court cases both won and lost.

Recently, the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was said to have toured the multibillion naira choice developments recently with a view to unraveling buildings that are products of land-grabbing which did not following due process before their construction.

Observers say the involvement of the EFCC means that transactions suspected to have not followed due processes especially those by unauthorised persons and their representatives are presently under scrutiny by the EFCC.

Efcc magu
Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of EFCC

Already, at the entrance of the area stands an imposing caveat emptor signpost, warning that ‘status quo be maintained on the 1,126 hectares of land’.

The mounted signpost read in parts: “This is to inform the general public about the illegal sales, economic sabotage and unlawful alienation of Federal Government land in Festac Phase 11 by unauthorised persons”.

“This is therefore to notify members of the public and any interested party to be wary of any transaction involving any portion or part of the land as such transactions will be visited with the wrath of the law.”

Whereas several money bags are turning Festac Phase II to small London by building structures suspected to have not be approved by the relevant authorities, it would be recalled that ahead the massive land-grabbing and subsequent developments, there had been heated disagreement between the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Kuje-Amuwo community even though the later claims that it had a few years ago, secured a court judgement against the FHA over a disputed portion of the area.

Checks on the array of buildings showed no form of building standards as whereas some buildings are two storeys, others are between one and higher buildings showing no clear pattern in ordering the use of lands.

Besides, the relevant infrastructures are not in place which indicate either lack of government involvements or oversight on the part of the authorities.

On the other hand, it was not however, very clear on why the EFCC visited the land as Business Hilights recalls that in March, 2013, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by former President Goodluck Jonathan, approved the development of phase two of FESTAC town in Lagos under a public-private partnership arrangement that will yield the total sum of N25.7 billion to it.

Addressing the journalists, then Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, joined by Housing Ministers, Ms Ama Pepple said the proposal to develop remaining 1126 hectares of land acquired for FESTAC in 1977 was accepted by the council. According to him, while over 2000 hectares was acquired by the federal government for the Phase I of FESTAC town, only a portion was developed and the remaining was abandoned as a result of lack of fund, a situation which prompted the ministry to move to develop the phase II through the PPP arrangement.

GEJ
Former President Goodluck Jonathan

Maku stated that Council approved that the remaining portion of land should be developed after reclamation is done by the New FESTAC Property Development Company (NFPDC) in order to fast track the project, which is “a way of developing the economy without dipping hands into government purse.”

Ms Pepple who explained that the concession of the project, granted to four companies, will span over 30-year period with 3 years moratorium, added that the sum of N150m will also accrue to the apex government as ground rent annually once it takes-off.
Further checks by Business Hilights on how far this particular government plan had gone in view of the massive unguided developments showed that the planned PPP under Jonathan administration did not go on and the current government is yet to either review the plan or come up with its development arrangements even as land grabbers continue to have field day in the choice axis.