By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
An Imo state born United Kingdom-based Scientist, Bernard Muoneke is not a happy man. Muoneke who relocated to Britain nearly two decades ago is regretting his decision to heed federal government’s call few years ago on Diaspora Nigerians to think home.
A native of Amagu, Oru east local government area of Imo state, Muoneke is one of Diaspora Nigerians who purchased land few years ago at the Pyakasa Diaspora village, Abuja in response to federal government’s plea for them to identify with their country and who are now accusing the Abuja Geographical Information System, AGIS of scam and fraud.
Some of the Diasporas allege that AGIS is fraudulently withholding their Right of Occupancy (R of O) and certificate of Occupancy (C of O) because it has reallocated their properties to other people despite fulfilling all the necessary requirements for land acquisition in the FCT, including making huge monetary payments.
According to them, the unspeakable fraud by AGIS has led many of them to regret their decision to make Abuja home by paying for plots of land at the Pyasaka Diaspora village, in response to federal government call few years back. They told the magazine that love for fatherland made many of them to heed federal government’s clarion call on them to think home and identify with their country. Thus, Pyakasa, a 64 hectre land located in the suburb of the Feedral Capital terrority was set aside for this purpose by former president Olusegun Obasanjo through FCT former Minister and now Kaduna state governor, Ahmed Nasir el Rufai who designated it as Diaspora village and allocated it to Diaspora Nigerians who were willing to pay and acquire properties there.
However, controversies, protest and allegations of scam and fraud against AGIS and their alleged collaborators have dogged Pyasaka with some of the supposed beneficiaries of the Pyasaka project lamenting that their own country has defrauded them.
Mouneke in 2007 bought a plot of land located at plot 41 Pyakasa Diaspora Village C14 with file number AN24515 but till this moment AGIS has refused to issue him with his R of O and C of O in order to take possession of the land . All his efforts to obtain the documents have proved abortive as he was told pointedly by AGIS that the documents have been collected on his behalf by a Diaspora Nigerian who they refused to name. Muoneke however, told the The Source that there was no time he mandated anybody to collect the documents on his behalf. According to him, “AGIS is being economical with the truth in its desperate effort to sweep the fraud it perpetrated against me under the carpet”.
Muoneke is sad that his decision to identify with his roots has turned nightmarish. Though he is on the verge of dragging AGIS before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the UK-based Imo indigene is calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello, the National Assembly and Senator representing him in the Senate, Senator Hope Uzodinma to intervene in what he described as “naked injustice against me, fraud and scam in AGIS as regard Pyasaka Diaspora village”
His narration: “I met all the requirements stipulated therein having paid fully for the plot of land, and up to date with all demands for ground rent. I travelled to Abuja in January 2016 to collect my Right of Occupancy (R of O) and Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) to enable me take possession of my land but was told by officers at Abuja Geographical Information System that a member of Nigerian Diaspora America has collected it. They did not tell the name of the person. I can confirm that I did not authorize anybody in Diaspora to collect any document on my behalf and I don’t understand how they could have given my land document to an unauthorized person”
Muoneke said his letter to AGIS’ Director of land demanding his land documents was acknowledged yet no action was taken to address his complains. Determined to get to the root of the matter, Mouneke then wrote letter of appeal to the Chairperson, House Committee on Diaspora, Honourable Rita Orji pleading with her to look into Pyasaka land controversy. In a brief reply to The source’s inquiry over Mouneke’s case as well as issues surrounding the entire Pyaska Diaspora village, the federal lawmaker confirmed receiving complaints from some Diaspora Nigerians over Pyasaka.Her words: “I have some complains from Diasporans”
In the last few years, AGIS has been enmeshed in high voltage fraud linked to land scam. For example during the administration of former FCT minister, Bala Muhammed, six AGIS top shots were suspended for fraud. The suspended staff members were accused of swindling hundreds of millions of naira from thousands of prospective land owners.
In a report after six months of comprehensive review of the FCT administration published sometimes ago by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission, ICPC, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration was identified as a major centre of fraud and corruption characterized by “forgeries and cloning of land document,” with AGIS as one of the chief culprits.
Essentially, the report revealed that staffs of the AGIS, the Land Administration Department, and the Department of Development Control are blameworthy of “abuse of power, conflict of interest, bribery, fraud, and favouritism” among “negative acts” that have “high probability of occurrence in their operations.”
Upon assumption of office, one of the current FCT minister’s immediate actions was the sack of Jamila Tangaza as the Director of AGIS.Tangaza who was appointed by the immediate past FCT Minister,Bala, was being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged diversion of N150 million and over N1 billion stashed in a bank in Nasarawa State using fictitious name, identity and other particulars.
Meanwhile, the Magazine’s efforts to get AGIS officials, including the current Director, Adamu Hussaini to speak on the Mouneka’s allegations and the Pyasaka controversy failed as inquiries made to them via emails,sms and phone calls were not replied.