By Maureen Okpe
Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), has decried the continuous marginalisation of the Original Inhabitants of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, stating they have been left to live in regret.
The Executive Director CHRICED, Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, made this known at an event organised in collaboration with MacArthur Foundation on Saturday, with theme, ‘Building Resilience, Fostering Recovery: FCT Original Inhabitants and the Struggle for Social Justice,’ in Abuja.
Zikirullahi, faulted the government for making life painful for those who sacrifice to give Nigeria its center of unity to be left in despair, adding,the deprivation the FCT original inhabitant are subjected to do not connect to the supposedly beautiful city center.
He said, “The ancestral land, of the original inhabitants where they have their crops, farming, fishing, and their lives are taken away from them with little or no compensation with nobody listening to them. Even when the government site all kinds of necessary law that they have right, to forcefully take over their land.
“Today they are just like orphans. They have no place. They are homeless, they are landless, they are stateless, and these are issue we are putting nationally for everybody to listen to, because hardly any tribe in this country today will say they do not have presence in Abuja. And if we want to have peace, there is need for us to address the problem facing the original inhabitants.
“The Constitution states the government have authority to take over land for public use, but not for them to confiscate and sell for billions of naira for hotels and the rest, if we are in a working system, where justice work, the original inhabitants ought to be collecting rent, in all these lands that have been given away.”
Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action, Barrister Chima Williams
Chima reiterated that,”the taking over of the lands of the original inhabitants have affected their economic life and this also affects the social aspect, this leads to depression and consequently death for some.
“What type of resettlement do you think will be enough for people who have lived their lives on their own term, this is forced displacement.”
On his part, the former Chairman, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abdullahi Candido call for the urgent need to resolve the issues of the original inhabitant as, if nothing is done today, it may lead to an escalation in the future.
“If you do not solve this problem and you think you are enjoying you will not like the outcome tomorrow, as the young ones coming up may not be peaceful as the present. The FCT people are seriously demoralized, we are empty. We feel we don’t belong,” he said.
“The problems are socio political and cultural for us. But of course our political situation is such a bad one that no Nigerian is even ready to listen and our fear is that if you don’t listen to these challenges today and get them resolved tomorrow we may not be lucky,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, Director Africa Office, MacArthur Foundation, Dr. Kole Shettima admonished the government to show value to the original inhabitants to the contributions made to the nations capital.
According to him, “the difference between the city centre and the suburbs is the infrastructural development, if the people can in peace give out their lands to the government the provision of essential amenities should not be denied them. “
The Esu of Kwali Alh. Shaban Nzazau Kwali III, reiterated that the issues of the Abuja inhabitant is an issue of ingratitude to the indigenous people of FCT, lamenting that, they are no commiserate provision for the natives.
“We are not asking for too much, we are just asking for what is duly right to participate in every sector in the FCT.
“Give us our right, because we have sacrificed too much, we need to do more for peace to reign. We will not do anything to destabilize the government but we must have our full right.
Also, an FCT Original Inhabitant and Secretary Garki Chiefdom, Dr. Lazarus Nyaholo expressed his dissatisfaction with the Nigerian constitution which exclude them as citizens the law stipulates one must belong to a state to be qualified as a citizen this he noted have automatically made the FCT original inhabitant stateless.
“In FCT we have the head as a minister this means FCT is seen as a ministry, and people are not indigene in ministries”, he stated.