The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has faulted the Federal Executive Council’s approval of the Land Swap Initiative of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
Â TheÂ non- governmental organisation working to ensure good governance through the use of information and communication technologies for peaceful coexistence and sustainable development made its stance known on Thursday in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja, a copy of which was obtained byÂ Humanity WatchÂ obtained.
Â The FEC had at the end of its meeting on Wednesday announced that it was resuming the FCTÂ Â Land Swap Initiative that was earlier suspended by the government following allegations of corruption.
According to the FEC, the objective of the initiative is to address infrastructure gaps in the FCT by providing land to investors who in return will finance infrastructureÂ rollout.
Worth about N1 trillion under the previous dispensation, the initiative was designed to remedy the infrastructure deficit in the FCT by swapping land with private investors who would in turn provide the necessary infrastructure.
Â However,Â Â CITAD says it is concerned that theÂ Â initiative would further encourage land grabbing which has dispossessedÂ many indigenes of their farmland,Â Â as it advised the government toÂ Â suspend the resumption of the land swap initiative until it can guarantee that the initiative will not be another avenueÂ for corruption in the FCT land administrationÂ system.
Â The statement signed by the organizationâ€™s Sponsorship Officer, Mubarak Ekute says: â€œCITAD has over the last two years engaged rural communities of the FCT who are extremely concerned about the phenomenon of land grabbing that is taking place in their communities.
Â â€œMany have lost their land which as farmers,Â Â it is their only means of livelihood.Â Land grabbing is a major threat to food security not only in FCT but all over the country.â€
Â The statement said while CITAD is happy to see infrastructure deficitÂ being addressed in the FCT, itÂ Â is concerned that the FCT rural communities who are landowners and therefore likely to be dispossessed by the initiative, were not consulted before the decision to resume the initiative was taken.
Â “Government has not made public its findings of an investigation of the operation of the Land Swap as it suspected that it was riddled with corruption. Government has notÂ explain how in the current phase of the initiative, corruption would be put at bay and how the interests of rural communities would be taken into account in the new phase of the initiative.â€
Â â€œGovernment has not address any complaints of land grabbing, land misappropriation and dispossession that occurred in the earlier phase for which FCT rural communities have been the major victims.”
“FCT rural communities did not benefit in terms of infrastructure development in the earlier phase, this has led many of the communities hard to reach due to the lack of roads; there is no drinking water; rural schools are scandalous sites and healthcare facilities do not exist,â€ the statement read.
Â The organisation therefore, advised the government to suspend the resumption of the land swap initiative until: â€œIt has carried out consultations among the citizens of the FCT, particularly rural dwellers, and come up with concrete and realistic plan for addressing rural infrastructure, not just infrastructure with in the FCT urban area.â€
Â CITAD also advised the government to make public report of its investigation of the abuses of the initiative in the first phase leading to its suspension and propose clear, adequate and realistic measures to stop and mitigate the problems of land grabbing in the FCT rural communities.