FCT Requires N2.6bn to Fix 25,000 Vandalised Assets

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, has stated that the FCT Administration would require N2.6 billion to replace 25,462 assets that were vandalized in the territory.

He disclosed this yesterday at the Town Hall meeting on the protection of public infrastructure organized in Abuja by the Ministry of Information and Culture.

Bello made the revelation just as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the National Assembly should consider the call by the public to enact a law making the vandalization of railway track punishable by death.

The FCT minister said findings a few weeks ago revealed that 400 foul water manholes covers, 582 stormwater covers, and 23,210 gully pot covers were vandalized in the territory.

Other vandalized assets, according to him, included 467 water board inspection chamber covers, 47 fire hydrant covers, and 756 telecommunications duct covers.

The minister lamented that the public assets destruction constituted a serious health and security challenge to the FCT, noting in particular, the vandalization of water board inspection chamber covers had an adverse effect on water supply in the territory.

“Overall, we are talking of over 25,000 covers of one form or another, and these are critical public assets that will cost over N2.56 billion to fix. We have our own share of vandalization of infrastructure in the FCT. Vandalism is beyond criminality; it is just in our psyche. “Security agencies should not see vandalism of public assets as a minor crime because it constitutes a threat to lives. Even some of the cables and slippers on the Abuja Light Rail have been vandalized and stolen.

“Any of the street you notice blackout sometimes, it is not a public blackout. It occurs simply because somebody decides to dig out the cables and steal them,’’ Bello said.

The President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Mr. Babagana Mohammed, however, advised the minister to replace the stolen items with plastic ones to discourage vandals from stealing them.

Meanwhile, Amaechi warned that many lives would be lost as a result of the derailment of trains that would be occasioned by the vandalization of rail tracks by vandals.

According to him, “Each coach, for now, in Nigeria carries 85 passengers and sometimes we take 14 coaches. Imagine if we are driving a train of 14 coaches with 85 passengers on each coach. If it derails and we lose 20 per coach you can multiply the number of persons that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money.”

The minister gave the number of cases of vandalization on the train network across the country at 136.

The cases are the Northeast, 33; Northwest, 31; North-central, 50; Southeast,36, Abuja-Kaduna,14; Warri-Itakpe, two cases, while Lagos-Ibadan has no case.

He said 10,000 pins used to chain the slippers on the Abuja–Kaduna line were removed and were replaced by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to ensure the safety of the track.

“The NRC has its own police just as the Nigeria Port Development Authority. We are doing enough, but it is not enough. Time without number, we have to look for equipment that will secure the line just to ensure that people are kept safe.

“Some people have recommended, and I think we should look at it, that if an accident happens, many people will die. So we should go back to the National Assembly to urge them to pass a law that does not only criminalize the action but that the consequences should be death,” Amaechi said.

Also, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, also put the cost of repair of 10 bridges damaged in six states across the country by either fire incident by petrol tanker drivers, illegal mining activities, or insurgency at over N4 billion.

On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said all these called for great concern and immediate action when public infrastructures are being targeted for destruction by some unpatriotic Nigerians.

He said the wanton destruction of public infrastructure endangers the lives of innocent citizens and takes a toll on the government’s limited revenue, as it seeks to replace, rehabilitate or totally reconstruct such destroyed infrastructure.

Meanwhile, over 25 civil society organizations in Nigeria, yesterday condemned the federal government’s suspension of Twitter, saying the measure is unconstitutional.

The organizations also described as an abuse of power, the prosecution order issued by Malami that violators of the ban be prosecuted.

The CSOs, therefore, in a joint statement, said they will continue to use the social media platform as no law in the country prescribed such action as illegal.

The statement read, “We are leaders of civil society organizations that work on governance, corruption, elections, digital rights & inclusion, women’s rights, and journalism in Nigeria.

“We note that Section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) makes it impossible to convict any person for a criminal offense if that offense is not defined and its penalty not prescribed in a written law. On the power of Section 36(12) which protects a fundamental human right, we, therefore, note and state unequivocally that the Attorney General’s statement threatening to prosecute citizens using Twitter contravenes the Constitution and is a violation of human rights and utter abuse of power.

“We stand with Nigerians who continue to exercise their fundamental human rights, especially as we will be celebrating Democracy Day on Saturday, June 12.

“God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!”

The statement was co-signed by ‘Gbenga Sesan of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Yemi Adamolekun of EiE Nigeria, Adebayo Raphaelof Centre for Liberty, Auwal Rafsanjani of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Chioma Agwuegbo of TechHerNG, Cynthia Mbamalu of Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze of Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Edetean Ojo of Media Rights Agenda, Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development, and Joshua Olufemi of Dataphyte.

Others are Idayat Hassan of Centre for Democracy and Development, Kolawole Oluwadare of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga of Centre for Impact Advocacy, Nelson Olanipekun of Citizen Gavel, Olabukunola Williams of Education as a Vaccine, Seun Onigbinde of BudgIT, Udy Akpan of Youth Alive Foundation, Oluwatosin Alagbe of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, as well as Y.Z Y’au of Centre for Information Technology and Development.

The statement was also co-signed by Concerned Nigerians, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Deaf Women Aloud Initiative, Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development, Raising New Voices Initiative, Cheta Nwanze, Nana Nwachukwu, and Tunde Aremu.

THISDAY

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