Criticisms trail Enugu Lands Commissioner’s resignation over alleged corruption
Barely a week after tendering his letter of resignation as the Commissioner of Lands and Urban Development in Enugu State, Dr. Victor Nnam has come under criticism from groups and individuals accusing him of being arrogant, unfriendly and corrupt among other things.
In a swift reaction to the news of his resignation, some government agencies, organised Labour Unions and others have rained knocks on the former commissioner who resigned via a letter, dated October 29, 2021.
Meanwhile, Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUT-TH; Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC); Trade Union Council, (TUC); Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, (NULGE), a former local government chairman in the state and others have reportedly described the former Commissioner as arrogant, unfriendly and corrupt.
According to the authorities of Enugu State chapter of NULGE, “Nnam should bury his head in shame and seek God’s forgiveness in all the land scams he allegedly committed that culminated in his forced resignation.”
The Labour Union, however, insisted that investigation by security agencies where it filed petitions against Nnam’s alleged takeover of the Union’s developed plot in Independence Layout Enugu should be conclusively done and appropriate measures taken.
The President, NULGE, Kenneth Ugwueze, said the union was still in doubt that Nnam, who allegedly tormented the association using land grabbing agents and refused to listen to its cries would come up with a resignation letter using the words ‘diligently’ and ‘Conscience.’
“If the said letter actually arose from him, then he needs to search further the true meaning of diligence and also may be referring to a guilty conscience,” he said.
According to Ugwueze, NULGE was allotted a piece of land at Independence Layout, Enugu, alongside other professional bodies like Nigeria Society of Engineering, Enugu State Branch and a few individuals by the past administration of Barrister Sullivan Iheanacho Chime in the year 2012 for the erection of her permanent State secretariat, which serves also as the zonal office for the South East.
“We have over the years possessed the ownership of the land with considerable works going on until recently (July 2021) when the land grabbing agent of the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, appeared claiming ownership of all the lands belonging to Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Nigeria Society of Engineering and two other individuals (with erected buildings) without prior notice, what so ever.
“We wrote to the Governor of Enugu State Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, crying out for help as he is also aware of our ownership of the land. While the security agencies were still investigating and making their preliminary reports, the commissioner hurriedly tendered his resignation letter to avert his sack since his guilty conscience was already staring him in the face claiming to be in the hospital for some time”.
“If grabbing people’s land without due process is a diligent work done by his affected officers and his version of ‘World Best Practices in Land Administration’ then he should blame himself for the act and seek forgiveness from God and so many groups and individuals that he has subjected to untold hardship and dehumanization through his “Diligence.”
“It is ridiculous for the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development to write such letter of resignation when the investigation is still ongoing and those his senior officers were only redeployed to give way for proper investigation of his ministry, which has been in the public domain including but not limited to several invitations by the Enugu State House of Assembly.
“We, therefore, cry out that the investigation by the security agencies be concluded so that justice will be done,” Ugwueze demanded.
On his account, a former Chairman of Ezeagu Local Government Area in Enugu State, Mr. Chukwudi Ezinwa, had raised alarm long before the commissioner threw in the towel.
Ezinwa had accused Nnam, of failure to diligently act in his capacity as the Commissioner in charge of his Ministry in an alleged brazen act of corruption and fraudulent activities of his Heads of Department, especially, one Mrs. Chinyere Ugwu and others as contained in a petition dated 25/5/2021 brought by him with the view that Nnam would set a panel of inquiry or committee to look into his complaint involving the de jure deprivation of his property known as Plot 318, New GRA, Trans – Ekulu, Enugu.”
Ezinwa said: “Prior to the petition dated 25th May 2021, and while still in office, I had instructed my Lawyers to write the Commissioner in respect of my missing file and land documents at the Ministry of Lands, but none of the petitions saw the light of the day as my land documents and all the letters written to the Ministry were claimed and actually found to be missing.
“This was ostensibly orchestrated by a female Director who was instrumental to my ordeals and whose relative with the same surname, was found out to have been issued with a Certificate of Occupancy in 2014 over a property I bought from one Prince Onyeka Onyia in 2008. The said Prince Onyeka Onyia, was granted Allocation of the said Plot 318, New GRA, in 2006.
“However, before my transaction with Prince Onyeka Onyia, I conducted a search at the Lands Registry and found the Allocation to be genuine and the land, not encumbered.
“Thereafter, I fenced the property and put a gate, built a four-bedroom bungalow, a gate man’s house and a fishpond in the property unchallenged till date.
“The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when I decided to apply for the Certificate of Occupancy of the property that I discovered to my utter surprise and shock, that they have altered every document pertaining to the property and termed mine fake.
“So, my cause for concern is, how come about the C of O, issued to one Jimmy Ugwu without the due process of visiting the property to see the level of development made by me, and who gave the consent for the Certificate of Occupancy to be given to Jimmy Ugwu, among others. These and other questions were what I raised in my petition to the Commissioner and demanded an inquiry to unravel the mystery which the Commissioner deliberately refused to act upon and that did not go down well with me.
“The failure of the Commissioner to act diligently over my complaint on the unscrupulous, unwholesome corrupt and fraudulent activities of his top staff needs much considered either as a pretentious weakness in veiled connivance and collusion with such staff. No wonder, the Commissioner became uncomfortable and quickly resigned on the ground that his professional HODs were removed by the Governor. Professional HODs indeed or are they not professional corrupt practitioners?
“The embattled ex-Commissioner claimed that Plot 318 New GRA was allocated to one Jimmy Ugwu on November 14, 1995 and obtained C of O Jan 7 2014. For discerning minds; New GRA was carved out by the administration of Governor Chimaraoke Nnamani which came on board in 1999. Yet the land was allotted in 1995.
“The C of O’’ he said was issued 19 years after, from 1995 to 2014. Who is fooling who? Meanwhile, I took possession of the virgin Land in 2008. The commissioner also lied that his Jimmy Ugwu developed the land. This is a land I developed, and I am still in possession. Who is Jimmy Ugwu? Our Investigation shows there is nobody like that. And if he exists why has he not shown his face in all these.”
In a letter of the complaint also sent to the Governor by the son of a former Governor of Enugu state, Chief C.C. Onoh entitled “Before it is too late” Dr. Josef Umunnakwe Onoh, Chairman of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, alleged abuse of office, land racketeering, illegal subdivision, nepotism and acts detrimental to the ministry of lands and Enugu state government.
He stated unequivocally that he has reservations over developments in the Ministry Lands under the watch of Nnam and called government attention to what he tagged “ activities detrimental to the current administration being orchestrated by Commissioner Nnam.
He further alleged that Nnam appointed a fraudulent crony as his personal assistant who brazenly engaged in scouting, illegal subdivision, sale, laundering of funds being proceeds of illegal sale of land on behalf of the Commissioner within Enugu Urban division.
He added that upon receipt of his letter, the Commissioner quickly backdated the termination paper of his assistant on realising that their fraudulent activities have been discovered.
However, Onoh alleged in an earlier letter addressed to the Commissioner dated March 12, 2019, that there was a criminal breach of trust, cheating and conspiracy and abuse of office by him.
He requested for information and clarifications in unauthorised “Carve out” plots within Enugu Metropolis and award of contracts to companies the Commissioner has vested interest, unwarranted sale of government land by his designated agents at Golf Avenue, Enugu.
Reacting to the allegations, Nnam said he expected that his abrupt resignation will ruffle feathers within numerous circles in Enugu State.
In his defense on the case of NULGE, Nnam said: “The issue of NULGE is already a matter that is in court with suit No E/658 in the High Court of Enugu State. There are things that may not be said since it is already a subject of litigation but NULGE as I know with all the existing documents in the ministry, does not have any Title to the land.
On the claim by Chukwudi Ezinwa, Nnam said “it is laughable that Ezinwa left his issue that started way back in the last administration and accepted to be used by known land grabbers to look for how to drag me.
“Let me say this clearly here that I don’t have any problem with the Governor. I only have issues with some unfair decisions taken by a few people in government against innocent civil servants. The governor is still my boss and I am always grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to serve.