By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
… demand shop owners first right of refusal over any new allocation.
…demand for proof that Abuja Investments Company Limited is the owner of the complex
The Association of Shop Owners in Area 7/UTC Shopping Complex Abuja in a bid to protect the investments of its members, has called on the FCT minister to intervene and revert the purported demolition of the area 7/UTC Shopping complex by Abuja Investment Company Limited under the guise of remodelling.
“We have so much at stake in this enterprise and totally ignoring us as the Management is currently doing is tantamount to stretching our resilience beyond limits.It’s on this premise we resolved to offer the following prayers to the Honorable Minister FCT for his prompt intervention.
“We pray that this very unusual plan by Management be rescinded for now especially at this trying time in the economic life of this nation. And that prompts us to ask the salient question; who owns Urban Shelter, and why is it being used as a veiled instrument to dispossess law abiding citizens of their legitimate properties? We wish to state also that the complex was not built as a shopping mall; rather as a safe haven for the struggling masses especially retired civil servants to thrive in whatever business they choose to embark on.
“The market; we that are there say is overbuilt as three other shopping malls and plazas are gradually turning the only road running through the complexes a motorists nightmare. Erecting a completely new structure in the vicinity would further worsen the already bad situation. It is hereby suggested that the complex and UTC Block be given a facelift, instead,” a statement signed by its Chairman, Godfrey Ojarikre reads.
The association explained that If the remodeling must take place; all stakeholders must be accommodated as partners in progress on the negotiation table.
“This presupposes that every Shop Owner would be offered the first right of refusal over any new allocation. Moreover; the modalities geared towards the full and successful implementation of any new project would be jointly addressed by all stake holders.
“We strongly recommend a seamless transition of every Shop Owner from his or her old shop to a new one, on affordable long term plans.
“We make this submission as a way of reiterating our earlier conviction that mutual effort from everyone concerned with this enterprise would help advance the cause of establishing a market friendly and model complex that will be beneficial to all.”
The Association recalled that the Federal Capital Development Authority had in the year 1992, allocated spaces to the citizens of FCT, adding that in 1997, letters of reconfirmation of allocated spaces.
It also noted that the Abuja Investment Company Limited came into existence in 2008 and has taken several steps including sending letters of termination, most of which it said, it ignored because the Investment Company was not responsible for issuance in the first place.
“Further to our earlier oral and written representation to the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council that was mandated by the Permanent Secretary to investigate the circumstances surrounding threats by the Abuja Investments Company Limited. to Remodel the Area 7 Shopping Complex / UTC, we hereby make our final submission as follows;
“In the year 1992; the Federal Capital Development Authority allocated shops/space to (Four Hundred and Seventy One) citizens of the FCT majority of who were retired civil servants. In 1997 a letter of reconfirmation of allocation of shop/space was issued with directives to not only enter into a tenancy agreement with the FCT MARKET MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE, but convert the shop space to permanent structures in accordance with the approved prototype design which was attached and that the conversion would be supervised by authorized professionals. The allotment was duly supervised and the shops built by individuals with hard earned monies derived from loans, pensions and gratuities
“The Abuja Investments Company Limited and the Abuja Markets Management Limited came into existence in 2008 and in line with the oppressive style of leadership in the affairs of the FCT then, a notice of termination of tenancy was issued on the 16th July 2008. We remained unperturbed over the notice because it was not from the Authority that allocated the shops to us in the first place,” the statement added
This, the statement said, was followed by a Letter of Offer for a Five Year Lease on March 30th 2009, and finally a Letter of Offer for Tenancy was issued on 30th June 2013, six months short of the Five Year Lease agreement, which is still operational till date.
In a joint meeting held with the Abuja Markets Management Limited the association “demanded for proof that the Abuja Investments Company Limited are the owners of the complex.” Despite promises made by the Abuja Markets Management Limited to get answers from its parent body, nothing has been heard of till date.
“We wish to place on good authority that we constituted ourselves into an Association in early 2009 and we were duly registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission. Moreover; Management has over the years been addressing us by our registered name. All Shop Owners have been consistent in their payment of Ground Rent to the Abuja Investments Company Limited; and Service Charge to the Abuja Markets Management Limited from January; 2009 till date. And that lawfully confers on every Shop Owner the statutory right of ownership.”