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Why We are in Order Over Demolition of Structures at Nung Oku- AKSG 

...Says Ministry Do not Charge fees for Checks Before Purchase of Lands 


By Ekemini Simon
The Akwa Ibom state government has said that it has done nothing out of place by demolishing illegal structures in Nung Oku, Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.
The State Government explained that the reason the demolition of the illegal structures by the Ministry of Lands and Water Resources is not out of place is because they were erected on government land and due compensation has long been paid fully to the original owners and the host community since 2005.
The Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Arc. Ime Ekpo, who gave the insight at a media interaction on Wednesday in Uyo noted that contrary to what he described as ‘negative propaganda’ on social media alleging that the demolition was carried out on Christmas day, the fact is that the demolition took place between Friday last week and Tuesday, 24th December 2019.
He added ” You are at liberty to go to those affected and find out, there was no demolition on Christmas day. And there was no single gunshot as insinuated.”
Ekpo said although the government was not under legal obligation to notify the owners of those structures about the demolition since they built illegally on government land, the government in a bid to show responsibility and human feelings, the ministry still informed them of the demolition in advance through letters and markings.
He said ” By the Urban Development Act, we are not supposed to give notice for demolition of illegal structures. The area that talks about 21 days is for defective structures. But, as a responsible government, we notified them, some with letters and some with markings. Even as at Monday, we told them to remove whatever they can remove.”
The Commissioner pointed out that the reason behind demolishing the illegal buildings at this time is because those who have been rightly allocated the land by government have since expressed readiness to use the land.
Offering insight into the story behind the land, Ekpo noted “This parcel of a land was acquired by government about 2005. Compensations were paid to the land owners. There is no ambiguity at all on whether compensation was paid or not.”
“So in May 2017, a concerned citizen from that community wrote a letter to the Ministry informing us that: one, the parcel of land in their village Nung Oku that government acquired, surveyed and paid compensation have been encroached. In that same letter, he mentioned that there is one young boy in the village by name, Leo Bassey, who has been deceiving unsuspecting members of the public into selling out government land.”
“When I got that letter, I invited the village council and the village head, they came to the office and I specifically mentioned in my letter of invitation to them that Leo Bassey must come with them. The village council said they never had a hand in the sales of government land, that government had acquired the land and paid them compensation adequately.”
Ekpo said the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, in May 2019 during his celebration with Generals of the Nigerian Army from Akwa Ibom origin directed the Ministry of Lands to allocate the said parcel of land to the Generals.
“In September of 2017, the governor made a pronouncement to Generals of Akwa Ibom state origin, that he will give them land to build a house so that everyone will have a land in Akwa Ibom state. He then instructed me to get the land allocated. We did the allocations and even parcelated it. So, when we prepared the layout and gave it to the the Surveyor. The office of the Surveyor General has been going there since 2018, but this same Leo Bassey will organize members of the community mainly youths to go and chase away government officials. In one of such occasions, survey equipment belonging to government were seized and the youths even threatened to kill them.”
The commissioner regretted that because of the actions of some youths of the community who conspired and sold part of the land to unsuspecting members of the public, the Generals who were given allocation papers since May 2018 have not been able to access the land.
He mentioned that some of the Generals and their family members had began questioning the sincerity of government in making public pronouncement about lands allocated to them.
Ekpo said that since government understand the plight of the Generals which most of them who are close to retirement  will not be able to have adequate funds after retirement to build on the allocated lands, had to swing into action to enable the Generals realize their dreams during service and in the process prove the administration sincerity whenever it makes pronouncement.
He offered insight to the fact that among the badge of the same Generals who were allocated lands at Government land in Shelter Afrique have gone far in using their land leaving their colleagues who were allocated land in Nung Oku waiting.
The commissioner insisted that since the government are on the right path in carrying out their responsibility, the state government will continue the demolition exercise on Friday 27th December.
The commissioner mentioned that the state government was working towards having an automated land registry where members of the public can check to know where government parcels of land are situated.
He called on members of the public to always check with the ministry of lands before buying any land from people to avoid falling prey to fraudsters who sell government lands to unsuspecting members of the public. He assured that anyone who approach the ministry will not be charged for such services and will get response within two days of notification.
He added “Before the end of May, we will start automated land registry where you can sit in the comfort of your house to do land search. The governor has given us approval to set it up and we have started it.”
While sympathizing with those who have been defrauded by Leo Bassey, the Commissioner insisted that it was not the place of the State government to take legal actions against the fraudster rather it was the place of those who he defrauded.

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