From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
About 2,000 landlords on the right of way leading to the Second Niger Bridge on Thursday protested over non-payment of the compensation that the Federal Government promised them in 2017.
The aggrieved landlords were drawn from those whose properties fell within the Right Of Way (R.O.W.) corridor leading to the bridge (Phases 2A Okwe- Asaba-Ibusa-Okpanam in Delta State and Phase 2B Obosi – Nkpor-Umuoji-Ogidi-Ugbunike to Enugu Expressway in Anambra State).
Armed with placards of various inscriptions, the aggrieved landlords who stormed the Ministry of Works at the Federal Secretariat in Asaba, faulted claims by the Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, that the Second Niger Bridge is 95% completed
In a protest letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and made available to newsmen, the protesters said they had patiently waited for the compensation in futility, adding that some of their colleagues have died in the process.
They said the government stopped them from developing their land, pointing out that it has become traumatic for some them who borrowed money to invest in farming and agricultural enterprises on the affected areas.
The petition was signed by Group Captain Samuel Akaraiwe (retd.), Mrs. J. Grossdale-Ovwido Perch, Mrs. Samiat Oluwatoyin Afolabi, Engr. Thomas Adeyemi Agbavobor, Engr. Uche Onuorah and Mrs. Barizoge Christiana Visor, widow of late Captain B. Visor who died fighting Boko-Haram insurgency.
The petition which was copied to other federal ministries, agencies and the American Embassy, urged the Federal Government to pay the compensation from the repatriated funds popularly referred to as Abacha loot.
It read: “Five years ago, the Federal Government came and acquired our property for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge.
“We have since patiently waited for the payment of compensation due to us but to no avail.
“Recently, we started hearing about plans being made by the government to officially commission the bridge with a claim by the Minister for Works and Housing, Raji Fashola that the project is 95% completed and that phase 2A Okwe-Okpanam is left with 4km not done due to flooding.
“We left the property for them and they demolished most of them in the course of construction, they brought a compensation form, we filled and they took our bank details for the payment of compensation.
“The claim by Mr Fashola is not true as the distance covered during the enumeration and verification of crops and structures is over 17.5 km between Okwe to Okpanam in Delta State while 17.30 km of Phase 2B from Obosi to Enugu expressway in Anambra State.”
Speaking with our correspondent, one of the property owners, Mrs Josephine Crossdale, said: “We want to let President Buhari know that we have not been compensated to date.
“They did enumeration and valued our property, we went to the Ministry of Works and do all the necessary documentation, not knowing that Fashola had planned not to pay us our right.
“Now, our property has been vandalized, our lands have been acquired by the Federal Government without compensation and turned us into tenants.”
On her part, the widow of the late soldier who died in the fight against Boko Haram, Mrs Christiana Visor, lamented that her family has been passing through difficult times.
“My husband died in this course, to date nothing has been given to us. They took our house, now we are tenants expecting our compensation but not forthcoming.
“The money should be paid to us with the present economic value because the price of cement as of 2017 was about N1,000.00, now it is over N4,000.00,” she said.