By Ugochukwu Alaribe
ABA-Landlords within the Ifeobara basin in Aba, Abia State whose houses were demolished during the ongoing expansion works in the area, have appealed to the state government to halt further demolition and pay compensation to owners of demolished structures.
Some of the landlords of the affected buildings who spoke to South East Voice in Aba lamented what they described as the ill treatment meted to them by the state government and the construction company handling the construction of a flood channel at the Ifeobara basin. They insisted that they were not given enough notice before the structures were demolished, stressing that some of the buildings far from the Ifeobara basin where the construction project is ongoing.
Reacting to the demands of the landlords while on an inspection visit to the site, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu dismissed the payment of compensation to the owners of the structures who he said had no authority to build within the basin. The governor, however, promised that those who have land title documents would be looked into.
He said, “You will be entitled to compensation if you have title documents. If not your compensation will only come from heaven. The people who erected structures in that area were not supposed to do so.”
Spokesman of the affected landlords from Olumba and Francis Kalu streets in the area who gave his name as Samuel said, “the state Ministry of Works gave us only one week quit notice that they would like to make use of our houses. Then we were still contemplating on how to meet with officials of the Ministry to find out how they will make use of our houses without approaching us so that we can dialogue.
“Before that one week could elapse, the next thing we saw was bulldozers all over the place, demolishing our houses under the supervision of the Commissioner for Works.”
The landlords claimed that every effort they made to plead with the Commissioner to give them little time to evacuate their household properties proved futile.
In his words, “efforts made to reach the Commissioner to plead with him to give us little time to pack out our household properties were rebuffed by the military men they came with, who even manhandled some of us that attempted to speak with the commissioner. All our household properties were gone in the demolition exercise as there was not enough time given by the authorities for us to look for alternative accommodation neither did the government provide us with any where we could take our wives, children and properties to.
“As we speak, we are now worse than the Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) in the North East because government provided camps, but in our own case, we have no place to lay our head.”
One of the landlords who pleaded anonymity, said, “When they came to demolish my two storey building, I begged the leader of the team to give me a little time to at least take out my cooking pot, he said no and before I knew it, my house was completely brought down without my tenants and I bringing out a pin from it.”