Kingsley U.N. Chikwendu —
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has revealed that it is set to recover the huge debt owed it by property owners in Abuja by placing caveat on affected properties whose cases are already in courts.
This was disclosed yesterday in a statement by the Director, Information & Communication, FCT / Chairman, Media & Publicity Sub-Committee, Muhammad Hazat Sule.
“The caveat is to deny such titleholders access to the property and eventually forfeit same to the government”, he said.
Sule said that this move will go on, even as the Administration will continue with the prosecution of defaulters in courts, preparatory to obtaining a court order for the forfeiture of the affected properties.
“Accordingly, the caveat formally placed will also safeguard such properties from being tampered with, especially by attempting to sell or transfer ownership, because the matter is being heard in court, the statement continued.
“The implication is that a caveat when placed on any property, whether developed or undeveloped, and even, if ground rent fully cleared, a written application must be submitted, and approval obtained before it can be lifted. The FCT Administration is determined to recover all Ground Rent debts owed it by property owners in Abuja, and all necessary procedure will be followed to achieve this.
“Since the Administration has commenced prosecution of the defaulting titleholders inspite of several appeals from the FCT Administration, the only thing that can stop the progression of this action is for the affected property owners to clear their outstanding debts”.
While enumerating that the Nigerian government is in court to seek an order to force debtors to clear their debts or forfeit the affected property, since they are recalcitrant in paying the debt, despite several warnings, the statement also added that the FCT Administration has taken these steps to drive home the point that it is desirous of recovering the over N29 billion Ground Rents owed it by property owners.
It would be recalled that the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr. Adesola Olusade recently inaugurated a debt recovery committee with the mandate to recover the outstanding debts owed the FCT Administration with particular interest in ground rents and other sundry fees in the Land Administration as well as other Land related departments.
“The government last month, announced its preparedness to prosecute about 413 defaulting property owners by the end of August 2022.
“The government insisted that since all entreaties have failed, it has no other option than to commence the prosecution of the first batch of the defaulting property owners, the statement further revealed.
“The Coordinating Committee on the Recovery of Outstanding Ground Rent and Other Related Charges in the FCT under the Chairmanship of the FCT General Counsel/Secretary Legal Services Secretariat, Mohammed Babangida Umar, wishes to assure the public that there will be no sacred cows as the law will surely take its course, because the only language it will understand is for the debtors to clear their outstanding debt”, it concluded.