Anxiety as Enugu demolishes poultry farm at deputy gov's residence

By The Rainbow

A FACE off may have erupted between Enugu State Governor, Sullivan Chime and his Deputy, Sunday Onyebuchi, over an alleged directive from the governor's office for demolition of a poultry farm located at the official residence of the deputy. 

  It was learnt that the poultry farm, which houses about 4000 birds that lay about 40 crates of egg daily, had been operated by Onyebuchi since 2008.

  The Guardian also learnt that the demolition of the poultry farm was occasioned by the 'public health hazards engendered by the waste resulting from birds dropping' as well as the offensive odour to occupiers of adjoining premises.

  Officials of the Enugu Capital Territory led by the Commissioner, Ikechukwu Ugwuegede, and his Environment counterpart, Nnaemeka

Chukwuonwe, were said to have stormed Onyebuchi's official residence which had been under rehabilitation since 2012 around 1p.m. yesterday to effect the demolition order.

   The state officials who arrived Onyebuchi's residence in various government vehicles and four hired commercial trucks said the development followed the expiration of 14 days notice served on the deputy governor last year from the office of the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo to relocate or stop the poultry farm.

  On noticing, however, that the birds were still in the poultry following alleged refusal of Onyebuchi to relocate them, Ugwuegede directed his officials to evacuate them (birds) into the waiting trucks, preparatory to the demolition of the poultry.

  Onyebuchi, who stood with his wife, members of his family and aides to watch the birds being evacuated, said he was not informed to where the birds were being moved. He said he inherited the poultry farm as part of his official residence.

  Although Ugwuegede refused to grant any press interview on the reason for the demolition and where he was moving the birds, it was gathered that the deputy governor had not deemed it necessary to relocate the birds since the notice expired.

  The notice allegedly given to Onyebuchi was dated December 27, 2013 and entitled 'Final notice/request to stop or relocate the commercial poultry farm in your official residence.'  The document signed by a Permanent Secretary in the office of the Chief of Staff, GOC Ajah reads: 'Further to this office letter Ref: GHE/CAO/31/239 of 24th December, 2013 on the above subject matter, I am directed to request your Excellency to kindly stop or relocate the said commercial poultry farm out of your official residence as it offends the statutory

certificate/certificate of occupancy purpose clause for which the said land is used as residential.

  'I am further directed to state that Your Excellency is given up to 14 days from the date of this letter to effect the desired directive referred to above.' It added that while no further notice would be given at the end of the ultimatum, relevant government agencies would be mobilised to effect compliance.

  Onyebuchi, who protested the development on Monday, said he had on January 8, 2014, in response to the notice for the relocation of the poultry farm, written to the Chief of Staff on the true state of the farm.

  In the letter signed by the Permanent Secretary in his office, Chris Eze, the deputy governor had stated that his official residence was part and parcel of Government House, adding that there was no Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued in its respect.

  It read in part: 'Just to put the records straight, His Excellency has asked me to inform you that the said poultry farm is operated within a section of the deputy governor's residence designated and fenced out as Agriculture unit - same as the Agric unit of the Government House where a bigger poultry farm, a piggery and a ranch exist. His Excellency the Deputy Governor operates a vegetable farm within that section and no mention was made of it, or is vegetable farm within the purpose clause of the C of O?

  'The structure for the said poultry farm was inherited by His Excellency from his predecessor in office who also used same for the same purpose. His Excellency has operated the same farm since 2008 with technical support from ENADEP and commercial agriculture programme of the state Ministry of Agriculture.

  'There is no record of a letter from you to His Excellency, bringing to his attention, complaint of any environmental or health hazard from the said poultry since 2008. This is because there is none. The poultry is operated with the best international practices. His Excellency's members of staff are living in the boy's quarter, just meters away from the poultry and they have not complained of any inconvenience since 2008,' the letter from the Deputy Governor's

Permanent Secretary said.
  Onyebuchi, who wondered why such punitive action should be meted to him, said the letter had not been replied to.

  Meanwhile, the Office of the Enugu State Governor,  has described as regrettable that the Deputy Governor Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi chose to ignore all entreaties and directives to relocate the birds in his poultry especially regarding the health of the people. 

  Officials of the government on Monday carried evacuated to 'a safe place and would be handed over to the Deputy Governor whenever and wherever he chooses.'

  A press statement by the governors Chief Press Secretary, Chukwudi Achife stated that the Deputy Governor does not currently live in his official quarters, where the poultry is located and which shares a wall with the office of the Governor because it  is under renovation. 

 According to the statement,   'in recent times, the stench from the poultry had been pervading the Government House and causing much discomfort to all workers within the Government House, including of course, the Governor.

 'Following persistent complaints and appeals from staff of the government, the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Mr GOC Ajah, was instructed to invite the Ministry of Environment and the Government House clinic to inspect the poultry.

 'Both the Ministry and the Government House medical personnel came out with a verdict that the place was not being well kept and constituted a health hazard to people working in the Government House.

 ' Based on this report, the Permanent Secretary has on a number of occasions, taken Government House staff to clean up the poultry. However, when the problem persisted, it was brought to the notice of the Governor who then directed relevant government officers to communicate the health concerns to the the Deputy Governor with a view to having him maintain the place properly or relocate the birds.

  'The Deputy Governor did not comply with any of these directives after several correspondences even as the stench from the poultry continued to assault people working in Government House.'

   When all entreaties failed, 'the state government then directed the Commissioners in charge of the Enugu Capital Territory and the Ministry of Environment to evacuate the birds to a safe place and clean up the place.'