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Demolished pub owner accuses El-Rufai of witch-hunt, threatens action

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Wike, agency, ECA, others differ on Rivers, Kaduna demolitions

Owner of the demolished popular Kaduna inn, GM Car Park and Relaxation Centre, Emeka Ugwua, has described the action by Governor Nasir El-Rufai as “a clear case of a witch-hunt and politically-motivated.”

Speaking through his legal adviser, Chukwuemeka John Nwogu, he claimed that prior to the demolition, the state government had been collecting taxes and other dues from him.

The governor pulled down the bar, located opposite Command junction in Kaduna South council area, at the weekend, amid the COVID-19 lockdown in the state.

Hinting that the hotelier was already weighing options to be taken against the government, the lawyer restated that the facility had been offsetting its tax and ground rent since 2014 when it came on stream.

He contended that all urban planning regulations were observed.

In a similar vein, Governor Nyesom Wike yesterday maintained that the demolition on Sunday of two hotels in Eleme and Onne, both in Eleme local council, was done in good faith and in deference to the Rivers State Executive Orders.

He also announced the relaxation of the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt councils for today and tomorrow to enable residents to restock food and medical items.

Also yesterday, the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) backed Wike, saying he acted in the interest of the people.

In a statement by its secretary, Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the group argued that those flaying the action wanted the state to be overwhelmed by the disease.

ECA noted that those attacking the governor had forgotten that the people would hold him responsible for any outbreak or failure to contain it, claiming that the state “has been at the receiving end of a well-coordinated affront by the owners of Nigeria for five years now.”  

It added: “Wike understands that the enemy will gleefully watch him roast and sink if the virus descends on Rivers State. He knows they will not rush with aid. He knows he is not their man. They replaced his police commissioners like you change your shirt. They deny him his dues because they can’t defeat him at the polls. He knows they will only be too glad to watch him cry.”

Meanwhile, the owner of the demolished Prudent Hotel in Eleme, Promise Gogorodari, has maintained that the facility was under lock and key.

Besides, the former representative of Rivers South-East in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, yesterday deplored the demolition and “auction of private property as well as the closure of all sources of survival for citizens of the state without due consideration to their means of sustenance in the name of the battle against COVID-19”, describing the actions as “draconian measures that would prove counter-productive in the long run.”

Also, stakeholders, including the academics, civil rights advocates, opinion leaders and chieftains of opposition political parties, faulted the decision.

A senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Port Harcourt, Dr. Sofiri Peterside, said it was imperative for citizens to obey directives, adding that in a democratic setting, “due process should be adhered to.”

Collaborating the don, erstwhile Commissioner for Information and Communication, Austin Tam-George, alleged that the executive order was “spurious, draconian and ill-defined.”

Moreover, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Ralph Uwazurike, faulted the destruction.

He made his position known in a video posted yesterday on his Instagram page.


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