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FG declares public assets vandalisation ‘terror act’, violators may get death penalty

The Federal Government has declared that vandalisation and/or destruction of public assets and facilities will henceforth be considered a terrorist act and will attract severe penalties, including the death sentence.

This was disclosed on Monday during the Federal Government’s 19th Town Hall gathering in Abuja with the theme “Public Infrastructure Protection“.

The meeting had in attendance Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, amongst others.

Lamenting the assets being wantonly destroyed, including police stations and equipment, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices and facilities, removing of rail tracks, bridge railing and aviation infrastructure, Lai Mohammed said:

“Today’s town hall meeting is both urgent and important because it touches on an issue that is at the very core of economic growth and national development, which is public infrastructure.

“When public infrastructure is being targeted for destruction by some unpatriotic Nigerians, it calls for great concern and immediate action, hence our decision to organize this town hall meeting”

The minister bemoaned the fact that, despite government attempts to build new infrastructure as well as restore and rehabilitate old ones, these efforts are being impeded by some unpatriotic residents.

“As a result, the wider populace – for whose benefit these projects and services are delivered – is denied access to them.

“Railroad tracks are being demolished, bridge railings are being removed, manhole covers are being stolen, street lights and other electricity infrastructure, oil pipelines, telecommunications facilities, and essential aviation equipment are being damaged or stolen.

“Apart from endangering the lives of fellow residents, such unpatriotic acts create a strain on the government’s limited resources as it attempts to restore, rehabilitate, or completely rebuild such devastated infrastructure.”

He noted that destruction of public infrastructure and amenities is more than just vandalism, adding that it is a type of terrorism.

He added that removal of rail tracks can result in a train derailment, which can be fatal; tampering with aircraft infrastructure puts passengers’ lives in peril, while attacks on police stations have left many police personnel dead.

“These are all acts of terror,” he stressed.

The FCT Minister, Bello lamented that over 400 manhole covers had been destroyed in the FCT, creating room for erosion and flood.

On his part, Fashola stated that the combined cost of repairs of some damaged and vandalised bridges amounted to over N3 billion.

He said: “No nation grows beyond the capacity of its infrastructure. Then, for every single one that we have, we must optimise it.

“Some bridges across the country have suffered some form of damage or the other.

“For example, the Otedola Bridge in Lagos; there was damage to the bridge elements by fire caused by petrol-laden tankers. Another is the Kara Bridge in Lagos damaged by petrol tankers.

”Also, Tamburawa bridge in Kano, damaged by illegal mining activities that exposed all of the parts sustaining the weight of the bridge.

“In all of this, the government has had to respond. The first one, the cost of the repair was N203 million.

“The second one was N605 million-plus. The Tamburawa bridge cost N1.8 billion to repair; a bridge we had already built.

Fashola also warned those breaching federal right of way while erecting structures and creating bumps on highways to note that they are engaging in illegality.

He said: “The right of way of our federal highways is 45.75m from the centre line on both sides.

“If you are in the centre of any federal highway, if you look to your left, 45.75m to the left is our land and the same thing to the right.

“Therefore, if you are building in any place near there, you are actually trespassing on our land.

“Some other people are building and painting their own speed bumps on highways.

“This is not only illegal and criminal on conviction, it is also a danger to other road users because this is not a municipal road where you can put speed bumps, it is a federal highway.

“We want to evict all trucks, vehicles from under the bridges. It is our decision and it is the right thing to do because all of these are unlawful.”

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