May 21, 2024

Demolition of structures: Enugu Govt, Railway workers trade words

Demolition of structures: Enugu Govt, Railway workers trade words

Peter Mbah

-We have the permission of Railway authorities -Enugu Govt.

–Not true, Railway authorities not aware of what you did.

By Anayo Okoli.

ENUGU state Government and workers of Nigerian Railway Corporation are at loggerheads over the demolition of structures on Railway land by the State government for the purpose of building mega bus terminal in the city.

Enugu state government said it paid compensation to those who are legal tenants of Nigerian Railway Corporation before embarking on the demolition exercise.

According to the Commissioner for transportation, Dr. Obi Ozor said: “The land is owned by the Nigerian Railway Corporation and leased to about 29 legal tenants for an average of 10-25 years. The Enugu state government has reached an agreement with the Nigerian Railway Corporation and Federal Ministry of transportation to lease this place for the construction of the proposed terminals.

“Government has paid compensation, some tenants have not submitted their accounts to Nigerian Railway Corporation because some of them believe that they are above the law or the government cannot do the work for the benefit of the people.

Enugu pays the Railway and the rail settles them, because the Railway is their landlord”, the commissioner explained.

But the Railway workers disagreed with the commissioner, saying the Government did not have the permission of the Nigerian Railway Corporation in what they did.

Leading the workers to protest the demolition, at the cite in Enugu, the President General of the Nigerian Union of Railway workers, Comrade Innocent Luka Ajiji, said neither the ministry of transportation nor the authorities of Nigerian Railway Corporation was aware of the demolition and ejection of their staff from their demolished quarters.

He claimed that the Railway alone lost over N21 billion in the properties and equipment’s destroyed in the demolition.

Addressing journalists when he led the protesting workers some of who had many placards with inscriptions condemning the demolition, Comrade Luka Ajiji said: “We are here in Enugu today to protest over the demolition of our properties by the Enugu state government. We have properties all over Nigeria and if there is need for the government to go into investment on our properties there are due processes. You will pass through the processes we have in our organization that will permit you to have documents that can lead to demolition or whatever you want to do with our land.

“On a fateful Sunday, we were told that the Enugu state government came with a bulldozer and started bulldozing our structures; ten of our flats were involved in that demolition and people were living there. A traffic training school was also demolished, a carriage wagon workshop was demolished, a whole training school of the civil engineering department was destroyed and ten 3- bedroom flats that Railway workers and retirees were living in were destroyed.

“We found this totally unacceptable to us, these houses are in litigation because we won them over the monetization policy in the industrial court and the judgement said those houses should be given to us. So the Railway management and federal government took us to the court of appeal and the court of appeal said the “status quo should remain”. So no government has any right to tamper with these properties until the determination of the court’s judgement.

“Enugu state government didn’t take all of these into cognizance and went ahead to tamper with those properties already covered by litigation, it is unacceptable to us. If you must tamper with any of our properties, there are procedures you must follow like I said before, if the procedures were followed it could have been accepted by us. In other states they demolished some of our house and they were replicated, some demolished offices were replicated too but we do not know the intentions of Enugu state governor.

“He has not talked to anyone from the management nor the ministry of transport, he just came and started trying to occupy our properties that is why we came here today, to protest and tell the whole world that we will fight for our rights, we will not allow Enugu state government to chase us out of work because when you start demolishing our offices the federal government will see no need of keeping us and paying us salaries for doing nothing”.

Reminded the Enugu state government said they had an MoU with the Railway authorities, Ajiji said “that is never true, our properties are never given out to anybody on MOU, you must process documents and you will be given documents to lease; you must make payment and it is for those properties that are not covered by litigation. It happened in Lagos and Osun; Osun state governor came to us, we spoke and our houses were replicated because he knew the implications and he knew we had judgment over those properties. If Enugu government has MOU with Railway property company, that MOU doesn’t cover our houses nor offices. If he has such let him place it on the table, that is not true.

“Railway management told us that they are not aware, from Lagos we moved to Abuja, minister of transportation said he is not aware, so where did he get his powers from to come and demolish our structures, only the state government can explain”.

He said in Osun State, Lagos, Kano relocated their staff when they took their land, saying that Enugu state cannot be an exemption.