November 29, 2021

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Constitution amendment: FCT natives want ‘statelessness’ resolved

The Original Inhabitants Development Association (OIDA) has called for the resolution of their statelessness in the ongoing Constitution amendment by amending section 299 of the 1999 constitution to make Abuja a state.

President of OIDA, Pastor Danladi Jeji, made the call weekend in Abuja, at a “Stakeholders Debriefing Meeting on Participation of FCT Original Inhabitants in the Public Hearings on Review of the 1999 Constitution” organised by the Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED).

According to him, the ancestral land of the people of the territory was not sacrificed by their forefathers, but was rather taken from them by the government and should be corrected in the interest of national development and cohesion.

He, however urged the natives of the territory to reclaim their land, through peaceful dialogue, while hoping that Abuja would be made a state.

“Every state is observing democracy day, without FCT observing the day. This is because we are not recognised as a state, though they said this place is a virgin land, as claimed by the government.

“FCT is larger than eight states and these states have their governors and members representing them at the National Assembly. All we want is that Abuja should be made a state so that we can also have representation at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and our people have a sense of belonging”, he said.

Also, the OIDA Vice President, Alhaji Yunusa Ashama Karmo, said that there was need for the territory to be conferred with a state status, thereby having 37 states in the country.

He lamented a situation where the government appointed ministers for the FCT who, after their tenure, returned to their own states to become governors, while the indigenous people had no such opportunities.

On his part, Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, the Executive Director of the CHRICED, who alongside MacArthur Foundation organised the forum urged the Federal Government to addressed the concerns of the natives and not to undermine or frustrate their demands.

According to him, the anomalies of the statelessness of the original inhabitants of the FCT ought to be addressed immediately.

He said, “CHRICED unequivocally makes the point that amongst all the agitations for state creation, all through the period of the constitution review, the case of FCT remains the most compelling and justifiable.

“To redress the injustice wherein millions of FCT original inhabitants have been rendered stateless on their own ancestral homelands, the National Assembly urgently needs to tweak section 299 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

“The section which states that the ‘provision of this constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as if it were one of the states of the federation’ needs to be amended urgently. CHRICED calls for the removal of the ‘if’ which has rendered the state status for the original inhabitants of the FCT inchoate for so many years.”