Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has initiated the demolition of over 200 structures in the Nuwalege community along the Airport Road in Abuja. The purpose of this action is to reclaim the land for the expansion of the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF) presidential fleet area.
The demolition exercise, conducted over the weekend by the FCT Department of Development Control, aimed to create space for the anticipated growth of the presidential fleet area.
Mukhtar Galadima, the Director of the Department of Development Control, informed journalists after the demolition that the Chief of Air Staff had approached the FCT Administration in October 2023, expressing the intention to remove squatters from the designated land.
Galadima shared that FCT Minister Nyesom Wike emphasised the responsibility of the Federal Capital Territory Administration in addressing the issue of squatters. The FCTA, following its policy on relocation and resettlement, provided a two-month notice to the residents residing on the Nigerian Air Force land, allowing them time to relocate.
He clarified, “We went there, we marked the structures to be removed and we informed them and gave them ample time until after the yultide so they can remove their valuables.”
He explained that structures belonging to indigenous inhabitants were excluded from the demolition, as they are entitled to relocation and compensation. Approximately 150 buildings were demolished during the process, with an additional estimated 70 buildings slated for removal to complete the operation.
Galadima urged the Nigerian Air Force not to initiate any development without obtaining approval from the Department of Development Control. He emphasised that the Air Force must submit development proposals for scrutiny and approval before commencing any work on the reclaimed land.
Some residents, mainly non-indigenes who had purchased plots from indigenous residents, were seen relocating their properties. They expressed frustration, stating that the majority of the community was occupied by non-indigenes and that the indigenes had not actively occupied the area.
This move follows earlier reports in December 2023 detailing plans to relocate Nuwalege community residents to accommodate the expansion of the presidential fleet area. Galadima assured that investigations into compensation issues for the affected natives would be conducted in collaboration with the FCT Department of Resettlement and Compensation and the Nigerian Air Force. The goal is to ascertain the legitimacy of compensation claims and ensure fairness in the process.