Enugu residents seek Government help to prevent Demolition

ENUGU RESIDENTS SEEK GOVERNMENT'S INTERVENTION OVER PLANNED DEMOLITION An abandoned Bus near one of the Structures

There was pandemonium at No 3 Savage Crescent G.R.A. Enugu as a bulldozer arrived early morning to bring down structures housing over 50 residents.

The earth moving equipment was accompanied by people identified as new owner of the property, claim they are acting on the instructions of the new owner, Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, the Chief Executive Officer of Innoson Group.

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The bewildered residents, who are now praying for Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s intervention and well meaning Nigerians to come to their aid, said they have no place to relocate to because of their poor status in the society.

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They told journalists that some of them had lived in the compound for over 15 years and were religiously paying their rent to whom they know as the rightful owner of the property, Mr. Ifeanyi Nwankwo until Mr. Chukwuma surfaced last week, claiming that Radio Nigeria, Enugu Zonal Station, gave him the property on a 15-year lease.

But the occupants feign ignorance, claiming they are unaware of change of ownership, from the presumed rightful owner Radio Nigeria and their landlord of over 10 years, Mr. Nwankwo.

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“What happened here today can only happen in a society where there is no law,” spokesman of the occupants, Justice Uzowulu, told journalists.

He disclosed that troubled started last Saturday when Mr. Chukwuma (Innoson) arrived at their compound with over 20 policemen and ordered them to vacate the property before Tuesday.

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“We were shocked to receive such a threat from him. We asked him his business with the property because many of us have lived here for over 10 years and we know our landlord, as Mr. Ifeanyi Okonkwo.

“He claimed that Radio Nigeria gave him the land on lease. We could not understand that because this property has nothing to do with Radio Nigeria. We reached out to the lawyer.

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“Nobody has ever disturbed us inside this premises; we have been lawfully paying our rent when due.

“Later that evening, two huge men also came again and started pointing at every part of the compound, that they were coming, let anyone come and stop them.

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“So, early this morning, we saw a bulldozer, we asked them what they came to do; they said they were sent to demolish this place.

“He said he would produce a document that shows that this place originally belonged to Radio Nigeria FM , that rightful transfered ownership now to Innoson on lease for 15 years to develop.

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When asked whether Radio Nigeria had ever come to lay claim to the property, the tenant claimed “since we have been here Radio Nigeria has never shown face here to harass us or claim ownership of this property.

“We are now begging the good Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, notable Igbo sons and daughters to help us, We are poor but law-abiding citizens of the State.”

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Reacting, Mr. Okonkwo’s lawyer, Ben Ugochukwu, who spoke on behalf of his principal, Mrs. Ifeoma Adaara, described Chukwuma’s action as reckless and a resort to self-help.

The lawyer told journalists that Chukwuma was a trespasser and was using his connection to intimidate the poor occupants.

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He said a letter had been written to the Enugu State Commissioner of Police in order to avert the looming breakdown of law and order.

He said the only pending case with respect to the property was between his client and Mrs. Georgina Ogbutor, stressing that while his client has a certificate of occupancy issued by the Enugu State Government, the latter claims to have another C of O domiciled in the Federal Land Registry, Ikoyi Lagos.

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Ugochukwu added that the case was currently pending before the Appeal Court and wondered how Radio Nigeria and Mr. Chukwuma came into the picture.

He said it was inconceivable that someone could wake up and descend on a property with a bulldozer with a valid court order.

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“When I met them here this morning, I told him that assuming he has possessory right, title and ownership and supersedes possessory right.

“That if he feels he has possessory right over this property, he should go to court to enforce his right. The man that claimed that he was working for Innoson, I demanded for a Certified True Copy of any judgement permitting him to do what he is doing. I also asked him if he were a sheriff or a bailiff of the court, he had no answer to that.

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“What we have done now is to write the CP, asking him not to allow his men to be used to perpetuate illegality. They are engaging in self-help but the law will not allow that.

Meanwhile, when contacted, the spokesperson of Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, Mr. cornel Osigwe confirmed the lawful transfer of the property from the rightful owner, Radio Nigeria under a 15-year lease occupation to them.

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“Radio Nigeria gave the land on lease; documentation were perfected and signed by the two parties, hence the need to move to the site to commence constrictor on the land

To seal the claim, the INNOSON spokesperson availed journalists with copy of Radio Nigeria reaction requesting the present occupant to vacate the premises ..

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In the letter signed by Barr, Okadigbo Chuka on behalf of Radio Nigerian Management, reaffirming their position to transfer their property on a 15-year lease to Chief Innocent Chukwuma, Chief Executive Officer of INNOSON MOTORS, asking the tenants to vacate the property within 14 days.

The letter reads in part“the property has been duly transmitted to Innoson Technical & Industrial Co Ltd. following all due process of the law.”

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It said should the occupants fail to vacate the premises within the said period, due legal process would be carried out.

The disputed property is an undeveloped property, having several temporary structures erected inside the empty landed space, located in the Government Reserved Area of Enugu the state capital.

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