There is no doubt that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Musa Mohammed Bello, is one public office holder under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration that has his ears on the ground regarding development that has to do with hisresponsibilities from road traffic management, environmental cleanliness, enforcement and activities to completion of projects, among others.
Little wonder, on November 28, 2020, a combined team led by the Executive Director of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Alhaji Abubakar Hassan Maradun, a director, deputy director and other staff carried out a ministerial directive to evacuate obstruction of trees cut off by one of the land allotees in the Lodigiani area of Life Camp after a well-grounded petition to the minister on the vegetational abuse.
A notice of prosecution and offence sheet had already been served to the offender which signified the enthronement of rule of law and preservation of nature in the FCT. According to the AEPB director, during the operation which had well-kitted police, civil defense, DSS and other AEPB enforcement personnel present, the felling of trees is illegal in the FCT and even in people’s immediate premises without authorization. Consequently, he called on the inhabitants of the FCT to desist from engaging in the illegal felling of trees which the FCT administration spends huge amount of money to preserve and plant.
Hassan further seized the opportunity to sensitize, enlighten and educate FCT residents on the dangers of illegally cutting and falling of trees, stressing that it gravely affects and possible of causing erosion and other environmental hazards. He also warned that jail term awaits any residents no matter how highly placed who constitutes nuisance through the cutting of trees across the various area councils that make up the territory.
Another issue that recently came to bear is the planned protest that the cleaning contractors of the AEPB are set to embark on as a result of the indebtedness of the board to the contractors for almost six months now. The report, which appeared in one of the online newspapers, raised issues of what awaits the entire city if the contractors charged with the responsibility of cleaning the city, evacuating waste and clearing of drainages actualise their threats, which in all ramifications could spell doom for the inhabitants of the city.
In response to the various questions, the AEPB director, who newly took over from the immediate past director, said that he actually got hint of the development and has taken steps alongside the concerned department charged with the responsibility of giving certification for the payment even though the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) is also involved going by the huge amount involved which has to be cleared by the BPP.
Abubakar Hassan further explained that he is going to put all required efforts in order to ensure the protest is put to rest going by the FCT minister’s open door administration and policies. Alhaji Hassan further assured FCT residents of the continuous support of the board towards eradicating street hawking, illegal food courts and other menace that could jeopardise the safety of people. There is no way FCT can be allowed to experience environmental hazards like some states where street trading is responsible for criminal activities like phone snatching, bag snatching and theft on the traffic. Since assumption of office, the director has carried out surveillance and intelligence gathering tours of dark sports where prohibited drugs are sold in conjunction with the various law enforcement agents who operate alongside the AEPB staff.
So far, the relationship with the police, civil defense, DSS and the other security agencies has been cordial and shall continue going by the rising cases of street hawking and illegal trading across the city center.
“This is a clarion call on food vendors to resist from trading in prohibited areas as this attracts arraignment in mobile courts and seizure of any item confiscated by the operational staffs. AEPB under my watch shall not condone any act of nuisance, rascality and defiance from any trader that violates the laws governing trading within the city center”, he warned.
Salihu was personal assistant on media to former interior minister.