Lagos/Abuja Property Demolition: The Pity Party Must End

by Ohepo Ohepo

Prominent Abuja based land merchant, Linus Ukachukwu has accused Nigeria’s federal minister in charge of the federal capital territory, Abuja of illegally demolishing a property he purports to own in Asokoro; an upscale residential area. Asokoro, is a serene suburb that is host community to the presidential palace and the Ibrahim Badamasi International Golf and Country Club as well as some media houses and numerous foreign missions.

Ukachukwu says the action of the FCT minister, Eze Nyesom Wike is driven by personal disdain for the Igbo tribe from where He hails because according to Him, Wike personally visited the contentious property on an inspection assignment during which He queried in anger why such an asset should be allocated to an Igbo man and thereafter authorized its demolition.

Ukachukwu absolves himself of any wrongdoing whatsoever including those common to land merchants like him. For example, known and unknown encroachment on the property of third parties, inducement of public servants, procurement of court papers, irregular documentation as well as not paying the right amount of income and other taxes as well as not meeting other fiscal liabilities to the Nigerian state.

He pleads not guilty to crystal clear grave crimes of obtaining by tricks / under false pretence which in this case, involves his tricking government authorities to grant him land; purporting to have an intent to compliment governments efforts to bridge the housing gap by providing affordable housing to Nigerians under a private sector deal.

He declares himself not culpable of the heinous crime of converting government property to uses other than those for which it was given to Him by way of land grabbing and thereafter, indulging in land speculation by way of price fixing which outrightly tramples on the right of Nigerians in the FCT to own affordable homes in choice parts of the sprawling city.

Whereas there is no wrong in a business owner standing up to state officials suspect of strangulating his enterprise, Ukachukwu crosses the rubicon and on national television, throws up the infamous ethnicity card. He attempts to whips up sentiments of tribal marginalization and political victimization and indirectly seeks to stir up again, the post-civil war emotions of Igbo’s of the South East Nigeria.

This nefarious resort to playing the ethnic victim card by no less an individual by Ukachukwu in His bid to salvage a bad investment causes right thinking Nigerians of Igbo origin to wonder how long more the vocal minority of ethnic jingoists; veiled and unveiled amongst elites of the South East shall continue to use the Igbo tribe as pawns on their chessboards.

For how long more shall the ethnic identity of the Igbo’s as a tribe continue to be used to settle political, business and even marital scores?

As a people, now is the time for Igbo’s of the South East to rise to the occasion and rein in this damaging narrative because the Igbo’s are not a conquered people. The Igbo’s are bonafide Nigerians and equal stakeholders at the various platforms where the patrimony of Nigeria is apportioned.

The resort to playing the ethnic victim card by some Nigerians of Igbo origin must end and it is principally because every component tribe and faiths that makes up the present Nigerian state harbours various degrees of dissatisfaction towards Nigeria as an entity. From the Niger Delta from where Eze Wike hails to the South West from where President Bola Tinubu hails.

The North East from where Vice President Kashim Shettima hails is as unsettled as the North West from where the Rt. Hon Tajudeen Abbas hails, up to the North Central from where SGF George Akume hails. Each of these regions is home to the most deprived Nigerians many of whom have benefitted absolutely nothing from the Nigerian state.

From the absence of equal distribution of human development opportunities to the absence of basic infrastructure. From multidimensional poverty to hunger, insecurity and the application of federal character.

Why the almost automatic resort to buying pity on every matter by the Igbo man?

The 2023 presidential election has ended and notwithstanding the emotions that trailed it; the Supreme Court of Nigeria has conferred legitimacy on the presidency of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and that puts to an end to any issue rising from the outcome of the said election.

The 2023 election was peculiar because to my recollection, it was the first since 1960 where the major tribes of Nigeria – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba had frontline candidates running neck-to-neck; which in itself created chance for desperate supporters of politicians to exploit tribal and religious fault lines to secure votes.

This was the case in 2023 and the fragility of our democratic and governance institutions made it easy for fifth columnists to suggest that the triumph of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu over Dr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party was not just a personal defeat but a show of superiority of the Yoruba tribe over the Igbo and Hausa tribes.

A pointer to this anomaly is the fact that the Nigerian social media space is always agog with tweets, posts and comments driven by hate and bitterness on one hand and a push back that is often driven by anger in some cases and a play of the victim card. Shamefully, even officials of the current administration are involved in this conduct.

Social media users of Yoruba and Igbo ethnicities are the most conspicuous culprits and it is my expectation that the department of state services wades in to stem this tide by simply blocking any social media account that has a consistent footprint of hate speech.

Away from the social media; the sphere of reality presents yet another dangerous narrative which constantly puts a knife to the bond of nationhood that holds Nigeria and it is the constant resort to playing victim each time any scenario plays out to the disadvantage of a Nigerian of Igbo heritage.

First in this dispensation was the removal of illegal properties in parts of Ajao Estate; later FESTAC and eventually, Lagos Island by state authorities.

As much as demolition of private properties are emotional scenes to sight, it is flatly wrong for persons involved who are mainly Igbo’s to instantly resort to playing the ethnic / defeated tribe / marginalization card and make what should ordinarily be deterrent for bad behaviour appear as though it is punishment for being Igbo or consequence for voting for a candidate in an election.

The demolitions are deterrents for bad behaviour for two main reasons.

First is the truth that non-Igbo property owners have at various times being at the receiving end of decisions of state and federal governments in especially Lagos State to reclaim land that has been put to inappropriate use. This is a fact and there is abundant evidence to buttress this.
Second is that in all which transpired between property owners and state authorities in Ajao Estate, FESTAC and eventually Lagos Island; not leaving out parts of the Lagos Trade Fair, Ojo, Alaba et al; not a single individual has stepped forward with clear and verifiable evidence of possession of the correct titles that confers legality on the structures built on the contentious lands and the lands.

In the case of Ajao Estate, aviation officials and some individuals whose properties were demolished confirmed to me that the actual ownership of the property was never in contention to them.

They also owned up to conniving with nefarious elements in the aviation ministry to encroach on government property with strong assurances from those elements that if they pay mutually agreed amounts as one off purchase fees and offered bribes annually to them, their cronies in high offices in the aviation authority will ensure the FG forgets the land and on the event that the Nigerian state decides to reclaim its property, they can “go to court.” This is how rotten the system is.

Whereas it is not impossible to have genuine owners of property suffer losses on account of the actions of governments occasionally, majority of “victims” of demolitions across Nigeria are individuals who acquired choice properties via back door procedures.

But care must be taken to determine the extent to which state authorities comply with laid down rules.

Only recently, the Lagos State Government has issued a removal notice to another Lagos based developer, Paul Ownuanibe of Landmark Properties. In following due process, the developer has been requested to forward all documents supporting the ownership of the contentious property identified as “beach resort, kids and bay area, members area, Lagos beach club et al all within the right of way of the proposed Lagos – Calabar Highway project” to the land bureau.

This developer could as well throw in the ethnic card but so far, he has commenced engaging the authorities as expected and both parties have so far shunned unnecessary resort to media grandstanding.

The Abuja property market where Linus Ukachukwu is a major player is fraught with all sorts of sharp practices, usually perpetrated by briefcase “developers” and “investors” like the man who has thrown His tribe under the boss in a desperate bid to salvage a wrong investment decision. From forgery of sensitive documents to bribery of ministry officials. From forceful takeover of land to outright defrauding of the federal government.

Whereas these individuals purport to be promoters of investments, they are the actual saboteurs who destroy investments and make costs of living soar beyond the reach of the middle class in major Nigerian cities. Currently, majority of civil servants cannot afford decent accommodation in areas with close proximity to their offices and it is because land is obtained via tricks from government by entities that purport to be developers when they are actually property speculators.

Their operational strategy is to trick government into parting with land with a promise to provide basic infrastructure and then, mass affordable housing. They receive allocations at less than 20% of the actual value of the land and immediately renege on their part of the contract.

The most they do is procure relevant paperwork and construct perimeter fences to prevent encroachment on their “cash cow”. They then proceed to demarcate the allocated land into smaller plots, create access points and disappear afterwards only to reappear after reasonable time and fix a price tag on the land with a profit margin of at least 1,000%.

They create artificial scarcity of land and ensure the middle class is totally emasculated and driven to satellite communities on the fringes of the city from where they travel to work daily then ride on the scarcity they create to rip off both government and Nigerians who are now forced to purchase lands at nearly 1,000% its actual price.

On this particular matter of urgent national interest, Eze Nyesom Wike has set out with the right foot and deserves national commendation for mustering the will and courage to break the stranglehold of land speculators on the FCT. Land speculators are the single; most potent drivers of bribery and corruption in the FCT because of their insatiable quest for wealth without enterprise which puts the entire workforce across private and public sector under pressure.

Abuja must be balanced and must be seen as a city that re-echoes the thoughts of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu that underscores that in His administration, there will be “dignity of labour”. There cannot be the talked about dignity of labour if the FCT reinforces the sort of class segregation land speculators like Linus Ukachukwu and His gang are creating due to greed.

There should be a piece of Abuja for everyone and the low, middle and high class should be able to live peacefully side by side one another.

At this time, only Eze Nyesom Wike can drive this reform and I hope He gives it the firmness it deserves to make the FCT a true centre of unity and not pander to claims by Linus Ukachukwu suggesting that He seeks to convert the said land to personal use because it is a generic accusation every FCT minister have had to contend with at various points.

Linus Ukachukwu is a bonafide citizen of Nigeria and has guaranteed rights under the constitution to challenge any illegal destruction of His property. He should simply not drag the entire Igbo’s of Nigeria into it by whipping up needless sentiments of the civil war and making it appear as though it is criminal to be Igbo.

The Igbo’s own Nigeria as much as every other tribe and will offer no apologies for exercising their constitutional right to lawfully own property in any part of Nigeria but the pity party must end.

Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis, a member of Nigerians in UK and Africans in Yorkshire sent in this piece from London. He is reachable via

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