FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr. Adesola Olusade

By: Ben Ukeji and Prudence Okonna

Aside prosecution of defaulting property owners, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), insisted that, all building plan applications must be accompanied by evidence of payment of Ground rent.

The Administration said all property developers in the FCT, must show evidence of ground rent payment before the Department of Development Control considers and approve any building plan application for development of such property.

In a statement signed by 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 Outstanding Ground Rent and other land related Charges, indicated that the decision was taken in view of the huge debt owed government by property owners, who have refused to pay their outstanding debt, despite several warnings and appeals.

Property owners in the FCT are indebted to the FCTA and are refusing to pay their ground rent and other land-related charges, forcing the FCT Administration to constitute a Coordinating Committee on the Recovery of the outstanding N29 billion Ground Rents, which government needs to implement its programs, and also provide basic social services to residents.

Accordingly, the clearance of all outstanding ground rents is now a requirement for the processing and approval of building plans submitted by property owners in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Director of the Department of Development Control, who is also a member of the Coordinating Committee has noted this resolution and affirmed that the Department will do everything to enforce this new requirement.

It may 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 to the FCT Administration with a particular interest in ground rents and other sundry fees in the Land Administration as well as other Land related departments.

It would also be recalled that the Committee has 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.

The FCT Administration decided to set up this Coordinating Committee due to the failure of titleholders to pay the prescribed land charges, despite several appeals and notices served on the affected property owners.

The Administration had earlier sent out letters serving as last warning to such defaulters, as the government is committed to recovering every dime owed it.

The Coordinating Committee is poised to do everything within the ambit of the law to recover every dime owed government and will take advantage of this robust partnership with these highly professional legal firms to realize this.

The Committee wishes to appeal to the defaulters to be honorable and responsible to pay their outstanding ground rents as it is a better option left to avoid punitive action, the statement added.