Our Stand (78) —
It is understood that the Development Control Department of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), under the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC), does not allocate land in the FCT and has no power to revoke any plot allocation but, it is entrusted to ensure there is no contending issue(s) surrounding ownership before the grant of a building permit. That is part of their responsibilities.
Allocation of land and its title can only be done by the government at the federal, state and local government levels.
The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), a conception of Decree No.6 of February 5, 1976 was created to control the infrastructural and physical expansion that includes the design, planning and construction of the new Nigeria federal capital, making sure that it follows the trend of standard of new capital cities globally and paying exceptional consideration to inclusivity, functionality, aesthetics and design.
However, the Development Control Department has the legal responsibility of guiding and controlling physical development, as well as ensuring that the implementation of the Abuja Master Plan is strictly adhered to. It is also saddled with the responsibilities of granting official permit to all forms of physical development (private and public) and monitoring same to ensure suitability of completed development for human habitation.
The department also grants setting out permit, stage approval permit, and continuous monitoring to ensure implementation, and also determines and applies appropriate sanction for non-compliance with development guidelines and regulations.
Unfortunately, some developers seem to become a problem by acquiring and selling lands with no proper title to unsuspecting buyers who end up dealing with the streneous consequences that come afterwards.
Recently, in a press conference, the Director of FCT Development Control, Muktar Hamza Galadima while explaining the processes that go with obtaining development control, he said that a developer must first seek obtaining a valid document which is a proof of ownership and shows that he is ready to commence development.
“The process of development or building in Abuja starts with obtaining valid title documents i.e. land documents that proves ownership which in the FCT is granted by the Minister, he said.
“When you get this allocation document, as soon as you are ready to commence development, you come to the FCT Development Control Department which is currently in the process of simplifying this process in such a way that all lands based on their districts will put on its websites, indicating the types of development required, because Abuja is a planned city with specific regulations in terms of building height, land use, setback, parking requirements, etc.
“So, before anyone even commences design, the person ought to come to the Development Control Department.
“You may have what you want in mind but, there are minimum design standards that have to be followed, and for you to do that, you have to have a copy of the FCT development control manual which will guide you”.
He also gave conditions that have to be met when developing a commercial structure, they include carrying out and investigating soil report.
“For commercial development, there are certain required documents e.g. environmental impact assessment report, and if it is going for more than two suspended floors, there has to be a soil investigation report to tell us the type of soil and whether it has the carrying capacity, and even the type of foundation that you’re going to have”
“When all this is done there are teams that will visit the site and compare with the documents and reports you submitted.
“Once we’re satisfied with these, we now look at the drawings viz-a-viz our requirements in the manual and now we compute what you are expected to pay to government, the building plan processing fee, and when you pay that we stamp your drawing and convey approval to you.
“Once officials give the OK, you will be permitted to commence, and continue with reinforcement, columns, beams, etc.
“Officials will continue to inspect the project until you reach the roofing stage, we call it stages inspection approval, to ensure there is conformity with land use because sometimes people modify what has been approved, from residential to commercial.
A certificate of completion and habitation is finally issued if everything is okay at the end and the owner can now enjoy his or her property.
These were some of the outlines he gave while appealing to developers for proper guidance.
In addition, he warned against those, including staff of the FCDA who would want to circumvent these development processes of outright removal of such structures, with sanctions coming thereafter.
One of stiffer penalties he mentioned was imprisonment to deter people from violating the process.
He said any staff found involved in any scam, the civil service rules would apply and this may lead to dismissal because, “some illegalities arise from compromise from within, so we don’t compromise”, he stated.
The Way Forward
Suggesting ways of dealing with fake developers, thereby, curtailing the extent of spread of improper land titles and prevention of harm on unsuspecting victims, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) are advised to team up with the leadership of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) to ensure more cautiouness in fishing out fake and unauthorised developers, ensuring that they do the needful by identifying with REDAN.
Also, REDAN as an association ought to be careful with the way it defends its members. Yes, it sounds appealing to defend the interests of their members but, while doing so, ensure that they are in line with the ethics that guide the profession.
Furthermore, we hope that the next Assembly (10th) of the National Assembly will pass the Estate Regulatory Bill which has been with the Senate and has scaled the senate, only waiting for the concurrence of the House of Representatives who have deferred it. This will help in entrusting REDAN with more powers to regulate the activities of the country’s real estate sector.
Other housing bodies should join hands and work with REDAN to come out with a clean Bill, having looked at areas that need to be corrected on the Bill for resubmission, hoping that it comes to light. This will help fight fake and recalcitrant developers damaging the reputation of the real developers, and bringing the activities of the housing sector into disrepute.
So, anyone wishing to commence development in the FCT, should avoid quacks. They are advised to go to the FCT Development Control Department for proper advice and recommendation.
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