By: Ben Ukeji, Wisdom Acka & Prudence Okonna 

Desirous of recovering over N29 billion Ground Rents owed by property owners, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), has concluded arrangements to prosecute about 413 defaulting property owners by the end of the month.

The legal fireworks, which is expected to commence at the end of this month, would lead to the forfeiture of the affected property to the government in line with relevant laws. 

A statement from the Director, Information and Communication FCT, Muhammad Hazat Sule, who is also the Chairman, Publicity Sub-Committee of the Coordinating Committee on the Recovery of the Outstanding Ground Rents in the FCTA, said, It is disheartening that some of the debtors have failed to pay their outstanding Ground Rents, despite several appeals and warnings, thereby putting the fate of their properties on the balance. 

He said that since all entreaties failed, the Administration has no other option than to commence the prosecution of defaulting property owners. 

The statement recalled that the Committee had earlier announced the engagement of five law firms, owned by Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), who have been hired to prepare legal documents to commence legal action against the defaulting titleholders.

“Already, letters serving as last warning to the debtors have been dispatched, and the real court cases will start at the end of August 2022,” he emphasized. 

The statement noted that the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr. Adesola Olusade had 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. 

Accordingly, the Committee warned 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. 

The Director said that the Committee intends to take advantage of these highly professional legal firms to recover all the outstanding funds, because the government needs them.

His words: “The Committee has collated a list of first batch of defaulting debtors consisting of 413 affected property owners that will face prosecution and eventual forfeiture of their property. The only choice left is to clear their debts before the end of the month.”