(The other side of the story by Architect J J Emejulu whose house was recently demolished by Enugu State government)
WILFUL DEMOLITION OF MY PROPERTY: A CRY FOR JUSTICE
The Governor of Enugu State, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is after my life. He wants to take over my large expanse of land known as the Airport Road Layout Phase IV and V. This lands measures over 400 plots. I bought it from Umuenwene Iji, Nike, Enugu, Enugu East local government area in 2008.
But the plot by the Gov Ugwuanyi to terminate my life and take over the land came to a head precisely on Friday, August 14, 2020. That was two days (12th of August, 2020) after the execution of the Order of Mandamus by an Enugu State High Court issued to the IGP to make sure that I take over full possession of my property which Gov Ugwuanyi was hiding under the cover of the Federal Ministry of Aviation to grab from me by claiming that it is now part of Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Let me state this unequivocally that I am a patriotic Nigerian. So I am not opposed to government acquiring any land, including my own for overriding public interest. I also know that normally acquisition is done through due process. But what Gov Ugwuanyi is trying to do in my case is completely different. He wants to appropriate my land for his personal gain, using his office as the governor of Enugu state to achieve that.
My travails started about 5 years ago when the then Chairman of Enugu East LGA, Hon. Cornelius Nnaji and his nephew the Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly approached me to give them half of the entire layout or they would use their position to take away the land from me. When I refused and called their bluff they now went and incited Umuchigbo community and Edward Ubosi’s community to start laying claims to my land. Both communities went to court against me over the ownership of the layout. But the court presided over by Justice J.O. Odugu in suit no. E/247/2015 gave judgment in my favour.
Consequently, I employed five security men to guard the layout for me. But Nnaji and his cohorts wrote a petition to Governor Ugwuanyi that I was harboring kidnappers in the place. One fateful day the Governor led a team of security operatives to the layout and arrested my security men, tagged them criminals and charged them to court. They were remanded in prison custody for good one year before I could secure their release through the court.
The Governor even approached the then State Commissioner of Police Enugu State, Mr. Ojukwu, to arrest me, accusing me of harbouring kidnappers in the place. But the Commissioner explained that he was aware of the presence of the security men at the layout and that I was not harbouring kidnappers there. So the Commissioner declined the order to arrest me.
Determined on taking my land forcefully from me, Nnaji and his cohorts brought in one Emeka Ene, the Managing Director, En-Power Energy Ltd, based in port Harcourt and empowered him to start construction of a free Trade Zone in the layout. Nnaji even invited Governor Ugwuanyi to come and declare the place a free trade zone, the same land he had earlier accused me of harbouring kidnappers in.
Nnaji further co-opted two serving commissioners in Enugu state government and promised them five plots of land each in the layout. They went into the land and demolished 25 duplexes, nearing completion, claiming that the layout is a free trade zone belonging to the Enugu State Government.
The owners of the demolished buildings now sued to court, alleging that I sold government land to them. The trial Judge, Justice A.R Ozoemena, in suit no. E/642/2016 gave judgment in my favour, stating that I am the bona fide owner of the layout and that the layout neither belongs to the Enugu State Government nor was it revoked by it. It was after I took possession of the layout based on this judgment that Gov Ugwuanyi invited me.
When I met with the Governor I complained to him how Hon. Nnaji, Hon Edward Ubosi and some serving commissioners under him have been trying to dispossess me of my land. Convinced about my plight the Gov invited the Commissioner for Lands Mr. Solomon Onah that very night and warned him in my presence to desist from trying to dispossess me of my land.
Surprisingly, two months after my meeting with the Governor in 2018, they drafted some mobile Policemen to give protection to the area, saying they were protecting the Akaunu Ibiam International Airport land. This is the same layout Hon Nnaji and gang earlier claimed belonged to Umuchigbo community, later a free trade zone of the Enugu state government, is now being claimed to be the property of the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Aviation.
To make good their scheme they co-opted the manager of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Chief Security officer of FAAN Enugu, including some Air force men to be guarding the area. Meanwhile Nnaji and co have sold some plots of land from the same layout they claim belong to the Federal Government to private developers to the extent that 30 buildings were erected in the layout.
Obvious that Nnaji and his cohorts have convinced the Enugu State Government to dispossess me of the land, I now ran to the Inspector General of Police and explaining my plight he gave me some police protection. Two weeks after, I moved in there and started construction. The Enugu State Commissioner for Capital Development Authority and some officials of FAAN, accompanied by operatives of the Nigerian police and the Air Force, loaded in five Hilux trucks stormed my layout and demolished several buildings and five thousand beacons. They said the buildings were obstructing free flow of traffic in the Airport, claiming the demolished buildings were illegal structures on FAAN land.
It is important to state here that Emeka Ene the MD of En-Power who Nnaji as the chairman of Enugu East LGA brought and gave C/O on my layout took me to court, claiming ownership of the layout. I am now in court with him over the land in suit no. E/094/2019. Note also that the same Hon Nnaji who is now claiming the layout belongs to the Federal Government has also sued along his brothers to an Enugu State High Court (Court 8) in suit no. E/9/2020, claiming that the layout belongs to their Nnaji nuclear family.
In the course of my travails, I had also reported the matter to the EFCC whose officials after investigation turned in their report in my favour. With the recent completion of the renovation work at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Governor Ugwuanyi is now trying to hide under the perimeter fencing of the Airport to take over my layout. To achieve this they decided to fence in my layout which is over 400 plots into the Airport land.
I then approached an Enugu State High Court which issued an order of mandamus, compelling the State Commissioner of Police to assist me possess my land. Consequently, the Commissioner gave me 40 police men to execute the order of mandamus which is to assist me take full possession of my layout by removing illegal structures built on it. This incident happened on Wednesday August 12, 2020.
The Governor of Enugu State was later to drive to the Layout, accompanied by heavy security men. Fuming with rage, the Governor said that I damaged Federal Government property with armed thugs. He then drove straight from to my private residence at No 23 Eziokwe str. Trans Ekulu, Enugu.
Fortunately, I was not in house when he came, but he met a friend of mine Hon. Arc. Paul Eze who was a colleague of his in the National Assembly. Hon Eze represented Uzo-Uwani/Igbo Etiti Federal Constituency while the Gov represented Udenu/Igbo Eze North Federal Constituency. Hon. Eze is currently paralysed and is recuperating in my house after he was discharged from the hospital.
Governor Ugwuanyi told Eze that he had come to demolish my house and that he would kill me; that I cannot come from Anambra state and be contesting a choice property with him in Enugu State where he is the Governor.
The Governor later invited the Minister for Aviation and told him that I used some armed thugs to destroy FAAN property at the Airport and that I should be dealt with. The Governor immediately followed up by demolishing my two palatial duplexes.
Painfully, I did not remove even a pin before the houses were demolished. He even declared a manhunt for me and directed that I should be shot on sight.
This is the trouble I am passing through in the hands of Gov Ugwuanyi. I am appealing for the intervention of well meaning Nigerians, especially illustrious Igbo sons and daughters to help me secure my life and my hard earned layout.
Arc J.J Emejulu
Nkolofia Village, Awka Etiti