Enugu: Lawmakers avert land grabbing, directs Housing Cooperation to return same to original owner

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The Enugu State House of Assembly has directed Enugu State Housing Development Corporation, to return a parcel of land at Golf Course Layout, Phase II, GRA to its rightful owner with immediate effect.

The directive of the House follows the report of the House Committee on Works, Housing and Urban Development after studying the petition of one Dr. Okezie Maduagwu.

According to the report sighted by to our correspondent, the petitioner, Dr. Maduagwu accused Enugu State Housing Development Corporation of attempting to collect his land after failing to approve his building plan, revoking his ownership of the land and finally claiming the land doesn’t exist.

In his petition to the legislators, Dr. Maduagwu stated as follows:

“That he acquired the said parcel of land H/185A Golf Course Layout, Phase II, GRA on 20th August, 2003.

“That in 2008, the Corporation formally executed a deed of sublease in his favour for the plot and it was registered as No. 62 at page 62 in volume 1601 of the Land Registry, Enugu.

“That he regularly paid all the prescribed fees as periodically reviewed.

“That on 8th May, 2012 he submitted four (4) copies of building plan for boys-quarters and fencing to the Corporation for approval to enable him commence development of the said plot of land but to his greatest surprise, the corporation failed to response to his request even up till date.

“That after he waited for their response and to no avail, he then engaged the services of a legal practitioner, G.O. Nwokeiwu Esq. who on 4th May, 2013 represented fresh copies of the said proposed boys quarters and fence building plan to the Corporation for approval and on 8th July, 2013 he also sent a reminder to the Corporation but they are yet to respond to the said letters or approve the building plan.

“That though the Corporation failed to approve his plan, they continued to demand for ground rents and service charges and he regularly paid all the fees as periodically reviewed.

“That on 11th May, 2015 the Corporation sent him a letter revoking the said land, however, on 5th June, 2015 the Corporation withdrew the purported letter or revocation claiming to have revoked in error.

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“Surprisingly, on 9th June, 2015 the Corporation sent him a letter informing him that his land has been used in the course of redesigning the Estate and that, it no longer exists. He replied them on 27th July, 2015 that he recently visited the property and that it still exist. He further told them that he is ready to embark on joint inspection with them to ascertain the true position of the property. Based on his insistence that his land still exist the Corporation wrote him a letter dated 4th January, 2017 inviting him for joint inspection.

“That on 10th January, 2017, he went in company of Mr. Chukwuemelie Agu – General Manager of the Corporation and Mr. Chime Ikechukwu schedule officer Golf Estate Phase II on joint inspection of the land and it was discovered that the land still exist and undeveloped.

“That on 13th March, 2018 he conducted a search at the Corporation. The result of the search revealed that his property still exists and it was duly signed by one Mr. Val Neboh – Director Estate Services.

“That on 30th May, 2018 barely two weeks after he got the search report duly signed by Mr. Val Neboh Director Estate Services, he visited the property and saw some men fencing it purportedly for one Mr. Ben Alukwu and when he accosted them, they made a call and within a few minutes some fiercely looking young men came and chased him away.

“That recently the Corporation embarked on identification and numbering of all the plots at Gold Estate and plot No. H/185A is copiously pasted on the fence on his property thereby debunking the claim that his land no longer exist.

In response to the above, Esv Val O. Neboh and Arc H.A.B Odo said that in 2012 the Corporation acquired 28 plots of land now known as Golf Estate II and is situated behind Golf Estate I but them these 28 plots were land locked. Consequently, the Corporation used 90 – 95 percent of Dr. Okezie’s plot H/185A as access road into the newly acquired Estate. So according to them the plot no longer exist. However, in a quick reaction Dr. Okezie refuted their assertion and reiterated that his property H/185A is subsisting.

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The General Manager Housing, in his own submission, concurred with Dr. Okezie’s statement that they went on joint inspection of the land in 2018 and that plot H/185A is still subsisting. In addition, he emphatically said that Ben Alukwu is yet to supply documentary evidence of the title over the land and there is no document at the Corporation to prove his ownership of the land.

Finally, he said that their Board met and recommended cancellation of Ben Alukwu’s assumed ownership of plot H/185A, however they did not re-allocate same to Dr. Okezie rather they resolved to give Dr. Okezie a plot of the same value and size in another Estate.

In the report which was signed by the Chairman of the House Committee on Works Housing and Urban Development, Rt. Hon. Chima Obieze and other 14 members, the Lawmakers expressed disappointment with the resolution stressing that they could not “understand why the Corporation should not return same to Dr. Okezie who it has been established to be the rightful owner of the undeveloped plot of land.”

They (Lawmakers) went further to make the following resolutions:

“Directing the Corporation to ensure that every encumbrance on plot H/185A is abated forthwith to enable Dr. Okezie take possession and full occupation of the property since it has been established that Dr. Okezie has reasonable and legitimate claims over the said land, plot H/185A and the said plot is still available and empty.

“That the House by Resolution direct the Corporation to immediately & without further delay approve the building plan submitted by Dr. Okezie to enable him commence development of the plot.

“That the House urge the Enugu State Housing Corporation to strive to protect its integrity by ensuring transparency in all its operations.”

It was furthered gathered that the House accepted the report of the committee and their resolutions on the 12th of July, 2021.