ICPC On Revisiting FCT Land Acquisition Hurdles
Revisiting FCT Land Acquisition Hurdles. In rudimentary economics, Land is classified as one of the basic requirements for production of goods or services. But the rising crave for this free gift of nature among a few rich class in Nigeria, especially within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), appears to be completely eroding the very essence of this gift to humanity. Chuka Odittah, in this report takes a look at the findings and recommendations of a recent System Review study carried out by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on the FCT Land Acquisition system.
The desire to acquire a Land is common among Africans. What may differ in one case from another is the use to which it may be put after procurement.
In Nigeria, a niche market has over the years been carved by a small percentage of the rich who go to any length to acquire the much coveted possession. In the midst of the growing competitive demand for Land in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a number of dubious steps have been introduced into transaction in this asset. Till date, several litigations over Land ownership in the FCT are replete in courts.
Worried about this trend, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission decided to wade into the recurring scenario by conducting a system review on the FCT Land Acquisition chain.
The acting chairman of the ICPC, Mr. Ekpo Nta, during a public presentation of the system study carried out on the FCT Land administration gave more insight as to why the commission chose to conduct the review of the FCT. According to him, the review mechanism was put in place to pin point bottlenecks in the smooth and efficient running of any system, but remarked that it was not to be regarded as an act of prosecution. He pointed out though that the commission would stop at nothing to ensure compliance with recommendations of the study
"The commission has so far conducted systems studies and review in a number of agencies covering procedures such as recruitment, accounting, stores and procurement, among others.
"In October 2010, with funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the ICPC contracted a consultant, Self-Help Development Facilitators (SEDFA) to conduct a system study and Review of Land Administration in the Federal Capital Territory. The choice of the FCT Land administration was informed by the importance of Land to ordinary and corporate citizens for shelter and development purposes. The commission conducts system study and review of Ministries, Departments, Agencies, and Parastatals to determine corruption-prone areas and subsequently direct a review of affected procedures," he said.
In order to achieve high level of accuracy in the study, ICPC's Director of Education, Mrs. R. A. Okoduwa gave a picture of what the review was set out to achieve. She maintained that the commission was determined to do away with inaccuracies and as such set a clear goal of what the review was meant to achieve from the outset.
"The main objectives of the system study the commission carried out on the Federal Capital Territory Land administration, first and foremost was to identify vulnerable areas that are prone to corruption, identify corruption red flags, design and facilitate the implementation of corruption fighting. Other objectives that were set include empowering staff of the FCT to act individually and collectively against corruption, and to promote awareness of the functions of ICPC’s anti corruption and transparency monitoring units, “she said.
A list of the agencies involved in the extensive review include: Abuja Geographic Information Service (AGIS), Survey and Mapping Department, Urban and Regional Planning Department, Land Administration Department, Department, Department of Development Control. Others are the Department of Resettlement and Compensation, Department of Mass Housing, Treasury Department, FCT Audit Department, Legal Secretariat and the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
Some of the key procedural lapses observed in the FCT Land administration system include, lack of accounting manual, lack of procedural manual for uploading data into the Geographic Information System(GIS), weak financial management system, forgery and recycling of bank drafts for payments. Others are lack of customised corruption prevention mechanisms, weak internal control function, low physical security of sensitive equipment and records, and absence of clear line of authority and coordination of Land related establishments among others.
As a way out, the ICPC study made some recommendations which included the immediate establishment of an account manual, setting up of a customised corruption prevention plan, locating internal audit in the office of the GM,AGIS, liaising with the Ministerial Committee on Falsification/Forgeries of Land titles within the FCT.
Other recommendations were the immediate conduct of audit in the concerned agencies and departments, review of search fee downward, drawing up road map and time line for completing the regularisation of area council issued Land titles.
According to the chairman of the ICPC, the review is not an act of witch hunting but an effort to tackle corruption, using system review mechanism. The minister of the FCT who was represented at the event by a top aide, described the report as an eye opener. He pledged the full incorporation of the report’s recommendation to make for efficient and corruption-free Land Acquisition regime. With such act of good faith, the road may well be clearing for a sanitized Land Acquisition system in the FCT, to begin with.
ICPC On Revisiting FCT Land Acquisition Hurdles
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