‘You can’t force RUGA through back door’ – Plateau PDP tackles Gov Lalong

The Plateau State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party on Friday warned the state Governor, Simon Lalong not to do anything that could jeopardize the relative peace in the state.

State Chairman of the party, Mr Yakuku Chocho who gave the warning at a press statement in Jos on Friday accused the Governor of desperately trying to confiscate peoples land for Ruga policy using the state House of Assembly.

Chocho noted that the land use act of 1978 enshrined in the 1999 constitution only vested all urban land within the state in the state Governor while non-urban land are vested in the Local Governments where they are found and wondered why Governor Lalong would seek powers to appropriate all lands in the state by introducing a bill to that effect in the state House of Assembly.

This comes after a “bill for a law to make provision for the administration of land in Plateau state and for other matters connected to 2019” was submitted in the state House of Assembly.

It was learnt that the bill which was sponsored by an APC lawmaker representing Pankshin North constituency, Mr Dasun Phillip Peter passed its Second reading on March 3, 2020, and is expected to pass the 3rd reading on March 25, 2020, when the state lawmakers reconvene.

Part of the bill states that: “Pursuant to the provision of the Land Use Act, the Governor shall in respect of Land in the state whether or not the land is located in an urban area have powers to grant statutory rights of occupancy to any person for all purposes.”

The PDP chairman said: “It is unfortunate that until this moment our dear Governor has continued to exhibit a deep sense of ill will towards the people of Plateau state in favour of his paymasters.

“This bill first contradicts the Land Use Act of 1978 which vested land administration between the Governor and local authorities.

“The bill, if passed, without expunging that part that contradicts the Land use Act and allows the Governor total control over the entire land of the state, Plateau people will be deprived of their land which is part of their heritage and ancestral in heritage.

“Therefore, we see this as an attempt by the Executive Governor to cede some portions of individuals and community land belong to Plateau people for his RUGA agenda.

“The people of Plateau state have since rejected the ruga policy because it is anti-people and, here we are, a fresh attempt is being made to force it on them through the backdoor.

“We, therefore, urge Governor Lalong to respect the country’s constitution on land matters and confine himself to the provisions of the law by allowing local authorities to grant statutory rights of occupancy to areas within their jurisdiction in line with the 1999 constitution.

“We also urge members of the state House of Assembly to reject the bill because it is against the interest of the people they swore to represent.”

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