From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Tension is building up in Umueye community of Oyigbo urban in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State, over purported circular given to property owners by natives over planned demolition of structures for an alleged proposed road construction by the Niger Delta Development Commission
Sunday Sun gathered that a circular signed by one Elder Daniel Ogbuji (08067938139), Chairman of Umueye Community, Oyigbo, Nwankwo Chidiebere, Secretary (0803558122) Umueye Community and Michael Azuh, Youth Leader (09045657952), Umueye Community, directed concerned residents, whose property and signposts were marked within the road map to remove such property or risked demolition by the community youths.
It (circular) read: “This is to inform you that your structure/building and signboards are marked within the road map of the aforementioned name above.
“Therefore, you are advised to re-arrange/ remove that structure immediately to avoid demolishing it by ourselves for furtheristic/developmental reasons, especially the forthcoming road grading in Umueye road phase 1 and 2”.
It was further gathered that some of the residents that are ignorant of the land use act have started removing their structures out of panic.
Some of the residents confirmed that they received circular from the group directing them to remove their structures.
A resident of High Tension Area of Umueye, Oyigbo , Policarp Jonah, said that he was served notice to remove his building for a proposed grading of road.
Jonah said: “I received a circular directing me to remove my house for a proposed grading of the road. The person that brought the circular told me that Rivers State Government in partnership with Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC have awarded contract for the construction of the road. The person told me that the community have the mandate of NDDC to remove structures that fall within the proposed road”.
He wondered why youths of a community could usurp government’s power, by threatening to demolish buildings under the guise of road construction.
Also, Chikwere Onoka has called on the Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area and State government to step into the matter to avoid breakdown of law and order.
Onoka expressed: “I wonder what power community people have to pull down properties belonging to residents. Under what law can a community association drive power to pull down properties belonging to residents? It is only government that reserved the power to pull structures under public interest law. And they lied that they were directed by NDDC to pull down properties that fall within the proposed road.
“If actually NDDC wanted to construct road, could such government agency direct community association to remove structures on their behalf? I think this people are criminals that want to extort money from residents under the guise of road construction”, he said.
Antyer source, who pleaded annoymity, said that one of the youths that brought the circular to his house said that if he can part with N100,000, his house will not be demolished.
“Some of this Oyigbo youths came to my house and handed over a circular directing me to remove my building for a proposed road construction. The boys said that NDDC has awarded contract for the reconstruction of the road. He said that they have the mandate of NDDC to pull down properties that fall within the proposed road.
“They threatened to bring down my building if I refuse to comply. But, what baffles me was that they boys came back later and demanded N100,000 from me. They said that my building will not be demolished if I can part with the money”, he stated.
Investigation revealed that Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development and NDDC are not aware of the proposed road construction.
Rivers State Commissioner for Urban Development , Ben Chioma, told a journalist that road construction does not fall under his Ministry .
He said that individuals have no right to demolish property under the guise of road construction.
The commissioner added that it is only government that has the right to acquire property under public interest .
He said before such property is acquired, the State Government will appoint a registered valuer to work out compansation for those whose property might be affected in a proposed road project.