Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
A timely intervention and intelligent disposition of the Air Force Grand Training Commandant, Enugu, C. O. Obiabaka yesterday averted what could have turned into a bloody clash between Police and Air Force personnel in Enugu.
This is as the execution of a Court Judgment Order by the beneficiary and an Architect, John J. Emejulu on some structures at the Airport Road Layout Phases IV and V yesterday might be a threat to the reopening of the Enugu International Airport scheduled for ending of this month.
Scores of armed Policemen officially assigned to escort Emejulu to execute his court order were busy ensuring peaceful operation as the bulldozers demolish structures affected by the court order including pillars for fence erected by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), when some armed Air Force men stormed the place and ordered the Bulldozer operators to stop and get out or be shot.
Led by the Airport Commander, Dalami, the Air Force men corked their guns ready to shoot, ordering everybody including Emejulu, his lawyers, journalists and the police men out of the area.
In response the Policemen by the order of their leader took positions and cork their own riffles ready for battle and the entire place became charged with orders and counter orders coming from both sides leaving the civilians scampering for their safety.
It was at this height of the tension that Obiabaka arrived the scene and calmed the nerves of all by peacefully approaching Emejulu to find out what the problem was.
After listening to Emejulu he said, “The Governor called me and said that one man was destroying government and private property and causing anarchy and I should go and stop him. I came here expecting to see a mad man but I saw you a respected man with law behind you and everything.
“But the thing is that the Chief Security of the State is seeing anarchy here, so what will happen now is that my AC (Police Area Commander, who also rushed to the scene when contacted by his men) deescalate, let us call all the parties involved and resolve this. The Court cannot give you order and I come and stop you from executing it, but you have to execute the order lawfully. Let all the principal partners come together and the AC have to arrange this quickly, because the fence you are pulling down is part of the airport project that is expect to be reopened this month end.”
Speaking to newsmen, Emejulu said he was there to execute the court judgment of an Enugu High Court, adding, “This whole land, Airport Road Layout Phase IV and V, I bought the entire Layout in the year 2008, about 400 plots, but Hon. Cornelius Nnaji and Uboshi the Speaker Enugu House of Assembly, they now felt that they are in government, they can take my land away from me. They even told me that they will use the instrumentality of government to take away this land from me and they went and started lying to the Governor.
He said that when they started problem in the area and demolished over 20 buildings he erected there, claiming it was Enugu State government’s land, he went to court and court invalidated their action and said there was not time government revoked his land and that the land belonged to him, Emejulu.
He further said, “Seeing that they failed to have the land as state government land they won went at their back to start saying is Airport, and brought in Airport people lay claim on the same land.”
Emejulu said he would not stop government from taking land but “If government wants my land, government should call me for discussion and I will tell government what my land is worth and if they pay me they take the land and not to enter my land forcefully.
“The time I did first execution, the Governor invited me and I went and I told him that it was his Commissioner Onah that was causing the problem, he called the Commissioner that night and warned him in my presence that they should stop disturbing Emejulu in his land, we talked amicably, so I am surprised to see all these things happening.”
When asked for his for his side of the story, Hon. Cornelius Nnaji who came to the scene declined comment but questioned journalist why they should interview Emejulu who he said is a criminal.