Court restrains Delta government from demolishing over 8,000 houses
• Alleged N6m misappropriated fund unsettles Ogwashi-Uku community
An Akwukwu-Igbo High Court yesterday stopped Delta State government from demolishing the houses of over 8,000 landlords at Ogbeowele New Layout in Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Council of Delta State, which were allegedly built on government-owned land.
The task force on land regularisation and reclamation headed by Mr. Frank Omare, which was inaugurated by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa four months ago, had last week sent a strong message to the landlords by knocking down the fences of the buildings.
The land, adjacent the budding Asaba International Airport, code-named Core Area IIA and B, became a subject of controversy after former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan left office.
The government had imposed a payment of N1.5 million, N2 million and N3 million respectively on land-owners in the area, depending on the size of the land of individuals before it was reduced by 50 per cent respectively.
The Diokpa of Ogbeowele Quarters in Okpanam, Ogbueshi Fred Ogbogu and three others dragged the state government to court to challenge the controversial order.
Joined in the suit are the state’s Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Chief Dan Okenyi; the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Peter Mrakpor and the Task Force Committee.
The suit, filed on January 16, 2017 and titled Aku/1/2017 along with the motion on notice dated February 13, sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, by any form, from tampering with any house in the area.
Appearing in court yesterday, counsel to the complainants, C. C. Uwakina, objected to an attempt by the counsel to the state government, Mrs. Onwochei, who sought the leave of court to be properly briefed about the matter.
After restraining the task force pending the determination of the suit, Justice Marcel Okoh adjourned till February 21, 2017 for further hearing.
Meanwhile, an alleged N6 million said to have been paid as compensation to Ogwashi-Uku community by the state government for the demolition of the people’s property in the dualisation of Ughelli-Asaba Road but allegedly misappropriated by some indigenes of Ogbe-Ubu Quarters in the community, has sparked off fresh trouble.
But an elder statesman in Ogbe-Ubu Quarters, Chief Austin Okeibunor, yesterday told journalists in Asaba that the alleged misappropriated fund would be recovered soonest.
Okeibunor, therefore, called on relevant security agencies to carry out anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to all nooks and crannies of the community by standing for justice at all times.
The Guardian learnt that some years ago, same persons within Ogbe-Ubu Quarters in Ogwashi-Uku community allegedly diverted unspecified amount of money paid to the community by the state government as compensation for the demolition of structures located along Ughelli-Asaba Road.