FHA cautions against patronising land grabbers, touts

The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has advised Lagos residents and other Nigerians to shun land grabbers and touts when buying land to prevent loss of investments.

The FHA also urged property owners and developers to always approach the authority for requisite approvals before embarking on construction.

The South West Assistant General Manager/Zonal Head, Survey and Mapping, Mr Umar Lawal, gave the advice while briefing the media at FESTAC last Wednesday.

Lawal’s advice came after a planned meeting of stakeholders with FHA was postponed.

Recall that FESTAC original allottees and those encroaching at Abule Ado had called for the stakeholders to meet with FHA to deliberate on the way forward against demolition.

However, a relation of one of the leaders of one of the estates was said to have taken ill critically, leading to the rescheduling of the meeting for Friday.

Lawal said contrary to figures in the media, ongoing demolition had affected 40 buildings which had irredeemable physical planning infractions or Right of Way (RoW) encroachment issues.

The assistant general manager said the 40 demolished houses were built on NNPCL pipelines, major roads, and drains.

He advised Lagos residents to purchase land only after diligent search with both the FHA and the state government, to escape traps of land grabbers and touts.

Lawal warned those building on Right of Way (ROW) in FESTAC to stop, to prevent economic losses, as he insisted that demolition would continue till sanity was achieved.

“My advice to the general public is that they should desist from further construction and that the exercise is a continuous one and whoever continues to build is doing that at his or her own risk.

“They should stop wasting their money because whatever news that they are hearing from people that are not from FHA is fraudulent. So, they should desist from further construction,” he said.

He said past efforts to supervise projects and enforce physical planning laws in FESTAC by FHA were resisted by land grabbers and touts who used thugs to attack the officials.

The surveyor, who said he was once beaten while trying to visit project sites, said a small portion of FESTAC under litigation was not touched during the recent demolition.

“FHA acquired 2024.64 hectares and 363 hectares are under litigation; the portion under litigation is on 6th avenue, we are very careful and are not entering that section,” he said.

He said in April 2022, a drone was flown to FESTAC to carry out an aerial survey to ascertain the level of distortion for the redesign of the area because the town planning layout had been bastardised.

Lawal explained that even new buildings that had reached lintel levels were captured in the new layout.

He added that a meeting was held and stakeholders were advised to stop any further construction for the authority to be able to redesign the layout to save several buildings from demolition through regularisation.

Lawal said out of 18,000 houses, 14,000 qualified for likely regularisation, adding that, verification and regularisation exercise began and residents were advised to come to the FHA to perfect the process.

He said it was agreed at a  stakeholders meeting between the residents and FHA that the only buildings that could not be saved were those on major roads, drainage paths, and NNPCL pipelines.

He lamented that in a bid to reduce economic loss, the FHA further compromised by accepting to reduce its roads from 15 to 10 metres to save more buildings that had encroached on internal roads.

He said to the amazement of FHA, the stakeholders and representatives of estates within FESTAC, did not comply with the agreement and new buildings without approvals and supervision were springing up.

He said FHA had no choice but to take proactive measures by embarking on the recent demolition to prevent the physical planning infractions, substandard construction, and likely consequences.

He said contrary to allegations in media space, FHA served contravention notices and conditions for regularisation on affected buildings.