Aggrieved Gbagyi residents of the Federal Capital Territory on Tuesday blocked the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Expressway leading to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and prevented the convoy of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo while protesting against the alleged takeover of their land by the Nigerian Army.
The two-hour protest caused gridlock on the eight-lane road.
It was learnt that the land extends from Tunga Maje village to Giri in the Gwagwalada Area Council of the FCT.
One of the protesters, who identified himself as Ibrahim Danladi, said, “We are saying no to the takeover of our land without alternatives. We came here to express our displeasure with the way the government and the military are seizing our land without compensation and treating us like second-class citizens in our country.”
Another protester, Usman Aminu, said, “Soldiers are destroying our farmlands and crops without providing us any alternatives. But the government does not care and the FCT authorities have abandoned their own people to be abused by the military.”
Our correspondent learnt that Osinbajo was forced to come down and address the protesters, assuring them that an amicable solution would be found.
The Senior Special Assistant to the VP on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, confirmed the development on his Twitter handle.
But the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, told the protesters to approach the authorities, saying that the army had fulfilled the legal requirements for the land.
Buratai stated this during the foundation laying of the Army Command Estate in the Giri area on Tuesday.
The COAS said the land for the Muhammadu Buhari Cantonment was officially granted to the army in 1979.
He said, “We got the official allocation with the Right of Occupancy in 1997 from the FCT Administration. In 2011, when all plots of land were revoked by the FCT ministry, and all land asked to be recertified, we duly recertified the land and paid all our dues required and necessary.”
On insecurity in the country, the army chief said, “The challenges we are facing in the North-East and other parts of the country will require us to be proactive and think out of the box, which we have been doing.”