The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is littered with unoccupied estates and houses. This has been a trending issue across the nation’s capital with observations by this Newspaper that the houses have become an abode for rodents.
Investigations by New National Star revealed that a lot of unoccupied houses are located in the highbrow areas of Maitama, Asokoro, Wuse, Guzape among others. It was also gathered that in recent times, the buildings constituted social menace and served as hideouts for criminals. A survey conducted by New National Star reveals that 80 percent of the houses are degenerating into terrible and deplorable conditions and therefore not fit for habitation.
A source who pleaded anonymity told this newspaper that unoccupied houses are not only owned by private individuals. He said some government agencies were part of the owners noting that he knew a government official who built mansions that were lying waste in Maitama district while he lives in an averagely low three-bedroom flat in Wuse, Abuja. A cross-section of people who spoke on this ugly trend alleged that some of the unoccupied houses were purchased with stolen money. However, a few suggested that the owners might be dead with no living relatives to take over the properties. One Mr Mathias Onyeke said, “when one steals money and there is nothing to do with it, that is how it is being wasted.
The money could have been used to build hospitals or even good roads yet they chose to own properties within the country whereas they are not even there to live in. “In 2020, The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) said that it would begin an investigation into the ownership of the buildings, we are yet to witness such things. Look at houses lying waste when human beings are finding it difficult to get decent accommodation.”
On his part, Mr Felix Kehinde, a civil servant said” the security guards or caretakers of these houses turn the houses to a lucrative business renting it out to people without the knowledge of the owners of the house.
“However, It is not a good idea to rent these houses because they are not secure and the tenants lack rest of mind. The moment the security guard receives a phone call that the owner Is coming back, the tenants occupying the houses leave the next day. It is an agreement, therefore, the payment is not the annual payment, it is done monthly or even weekly.” For Mr. Mayowa Jonathan, a resident in EPL Estate, Guzape, the vacant houses most of which are linked to individuals with unexplained wealth, are built without the intention of living in them.
“These people have too many properties which they can barely keep track of, within and outside the country. The houses are not made affordable for average citizens, they may not even be built to be given out for rent. This makes one wonder why they were even built in the first place.” “It is evident that unoccupied houses in Abuja are used to launder corrupt money and as a means of financial security for the rich.
Most of the houses were never occupied years after they were built and are believed to be owned by top public servants and politicians who have access to wealth.”
A source in Tenement Rates Office, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) disclosed that tenement rates were not enforced on unoccupied houses. She noted that if there was a tax on the houses, they would not be empty as the owners would be paying tax. However, there is tax imposed on occupied houses and developed properties. Efforts to reach the Head, Tenement Rates Department of AMAC proved futile as attempts to reach him through the phone and in-person yielded no results.