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Fears As Okowa Moves To Demolish Over 3000 Houses Amidst Economic Crunch

By kenneth orusi, The Nigerian voice, Asaba
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There is pandemonium in Ogbe-Owele quarters of Okpanam, opposite the downgraded Asaba airport, a suburb of Asaba over Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s directive to demolish over 3000 houses.

This is followed by a 14-day ultimatum given by the Commissioner of Lands, Surveys and Urban Development, Chief Dan Okenyi, to property developers in the area.

It was gathered that Okenyi allegedly took some hoodlums to the area and placed notice on houses for them to get the original plan in order to build their houses to government standard.

However, there was a twist when the younger brother to the Commissioner for Lands allegedly returned to the community, threatened to bring down houses unless the property owners pays the sum of N400, 000 which was later reviewed upward to N1 million after Okowa convened a meeting with his lieutenant.

Also, it was a shocker to the elders of Ogbe-Owele to hear that the said land has automatically become government land, this was resisted by the elders with the denial that they have never collected royalty from previous administrations.

In a petition sent to the Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly (DTHA), on the inhuman 14-day notice/ultimatum to demolish over 3000 house situated in Okonkwo Ezechie family land opposite the Asaba airport.

The petitioners said, “in the first place, the ancestral owners of the land in question, Okonkwo Ezechie, has openly declared that the government never acquired the land from them at any date before now”, pointing out that they have obtained several court judgements showing that the land belongs to Okonkwo Ezechie family of Ogbe-Owele quarters, Okpanam.

They noted that, “when Vanguard Newspaper Printing Press was constructed within the said land, the family confronted them for payment for the land through court process, Vanguard eventually offered to settle out of court and it was cordially settled and the family was paid compensation as the bonafide owners of the land”.

According to the petitioners, when previous governments tried to possess the area measuring 875m which is immediately after the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Mega Filling Station to Marble Hill School, towards Okpanam road area, the family reported and the land was deacquired and released to the family by Chief James Onanefe Ibori and Emmanuel Uduaghan’s administrations.

In response to the 14-day demolition notice served to every compound in the area, we decided on behalf of the traditional people of Okpanam living in the affected area, the landlords/developers and other Deltans who resides in the area in question as tenants resolved, “that you use your good office to notify His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa that over 10, 000 adults and children will be thrown into the rains at a very difficult time like this if the Ministry of Lands, Urban and Regional Planning shall carry out their unholy act”, stressing that their children and household cannot be removed out of their hard earned shelter, describing it as “dangerous as sudden death”.

“We jointly request that the House Committee on Lands as a matter of urgency make an oversight function by visiting the area on a date before the 14-day ultimatum expires of this demolition notice to find out the truth for themselves”.

“That the House should invite/inform the Director of Development Council. P. O. Okughu and the Commissioner for Lands Chief Okenyi to stay action until the House Committee completes its investigation”, the petitioners added.