SPECIAL REPORT: Kutako, an Abuja community where cemetery used for defecation and dumping of refuse

By Umar Gidado

Though it is refers and address as Utako in the Federal Capital territory (FCT) Abuja, the native community of the Abuja Phase 2 District argued that, its original name given to the area by their ancestors is “Kutako” which simply means gigantic rock, that have been corrupted by the city planners.

Situated just about a kilometer distance from the popular Beggar fly over of the Nigerian capital city Abuja, the community is among the few lucky ones of the indigenous Abuja inhabitants, that is yet to be relocated to any designed location, following the adoption of Abuja as the new Federal Capital, by the Federal government.

A recent visit to the area by the GovernanceNews correspondent, encountered a shocking experience considered as a taboo among all set of human race, as cemetery ground used to bury the death ones, is being used for open defecation and dumping refuse, allegedly by people who are not being bless with public convenience inside their slum houses, of the old village section.

Even though commercial public convenience were allowed to be erected continuously there with an aim to bridge the gap, the menace goes on, as most of the violators as been gathered, considers paying a token money to the public convenience providers, for just a “shit” as a costly venture, while others especially among the natives community are simply ignoring them, for the fact that they could not defecate inside any facility apart from an open space of their way of olden life.

A resident in the area who spoke in confidential, also explained that, other violators of the cemetery trespassing  are commercial car operators who in the course of flying into the route while driving alone, would simply park their vehicle and storm into the non-fenced cemetery to empty their bowel. Responding about the development, many residents interviewed who still use the facility for burying their late ones lamented the situation, while others who are not fall among its users but either live or operate business close to the facility, linked their worry to the state of odor they are going through, once is raining season.

Effort to speak to the village head of Utako, mallam Abdullahi Isa Nyaminu over the matter was not successful, as the royal father referred our reporter to the Chief of Garki whose chiefdom has extended to the area. He maintained that there is an order from government that bars traditional heads of his caliber from talking to journalist over any issue relating to community.

But a high ranking leader in the community who spoke in confidential, explained that the Gbagy community who are the natives of the Utako District, have made several efforts in the fast to get the facility been fenced by the succeeded administration of the Abuja Municipal Area Council AMAC, unsuccessful. He said another plead was equally extended to the Abuja Environmental Protection Board AEPB who used to deal with issue of refuse and other environment violation, but that all in vain.

He said the agency has rather advised them to stop burying their late ones inside the facility, and instead use the Apo cemetery ground which is the official burial ground used by the residents of the city center. When was asked about on why they failed to comply with the agency’s direction, the community leader simply said “Apo cemetery was provided for the use of strangers, and you don’t expect us as natives to take our late ones there, because we regard that as a taboo, as he explained.

He narrated an experience said to be taken place in the area when the FCT road project was extended to the community referring to popular Arab junction way of the Utako District. He said the road contractors had got their machine used to drill “Gigantic rock” ahead of blustering, been stranded in the ground. “We had earlier on warned them to delay their work toward the rock until we observe some sacrifice, but they did not yielded to our order.

“It was after four days into the incidence that they realized their mistake and approached our community leaders over the matter. We accepted their plead and they give out some money which was used for the sacrifice services and eventually the machine was re-put on successfully and the road was constructed after clearing the rock, he said. He explained that the rock which the area was name after it, is still remain their shrine where they usually assembled to seek for a divine intervention whenever need arise..

And, “That is why when the project of primary school came up here, we demanded that the rock should be spared away from the school fence, as we could not afford to wait for school gate to be open before accessing it whenever a need to storm there arise,” said the leader.