Crisis brews in Abia over demolition, compensation
…. as Obohia community leaders give Orubebe ultimatum
The fragile peace in Obohia Ndoki, Ukwa East Local Government Area of Abia State is being threatened following the outcome of the valuation exercise of properties located within the route of the dual carriage road known as Obehie- Azumini- Ukanafun by the Ministry of the Niger Delta and CCECC Nigeria Limited, a road construction company.
Leading the pack against the ministry and the construction company is Engineer Onyema Okerenta. With him are Mrs. Sabainah Okerenta, legal experts and other top leaders of the community.
At a press briefing in Lagos late on Monday, they accused the people charged with the construction of the road, especially the aspect of survey, valuation and payment of monetary compensation of lack of openness and transparency. They also alleged that people whose houses are very close to the road are left out but others whose houses are far away are recommended for payment.
Engineer Okorenta dismissed the report of the valuation exercise, insisting that the only reasonable, just and justifiable valuation exercise/ report should be one that encompasses/ transverses his entire building and premises to enable him acquire land elsewhere and erect a befitting environmental and security friendly residential structure for himself and members of the family.
“My storey building and boys quarters with modern facilities and appurtenances is the nearest to the road. It is 62 feet from the edge of the existing road and 92 feet from the location of the boys’ quarters. Neighbouring houses, further away from the road than my house were approved for demolition in their respective valuation report. Their owners had smiled home with the commensurate monetary compensations paid to them by the Federal Government. My building and boys quarters were excluded. Only my fence was selected for demolition.
Also, PHCN has shifted its poles to the direction and location of my house. The high tension wire is almost touching the roof of the building. More so, with the demolition of my fence, I can no longer sleep in my house. I now sleep in hotels at Port Harcourt for safety whenever I am around. Members of my family dare not visit home again, as they will be exposed to kidnapping” he lamented.
He urged the minister to take necessary steps to order the accredited Estate Surveyors and Valuers to rectify the sordid scenario by re-evaluating the entire building and premises, issuing fresh valuation report to him and causing commensurate compensation to be paid to him.
For Mrs. Okorenta, an old widow, before the commencement of the construction of the dual carriage road, a survey of her eight room bungalow and others were conducted and numbers given to them. According to her, “I was given a valuation report and told that the demolition of the entire house has been approved. No one told me that only three rooms out of the eight rooms would be demolished and monetary compensation paid only on three rooms.
My orange tree, which used to earn me a lot of money, was uprooted but was nowhere specified in the valuation report and no compensation was paid on it at all. It is anomalous and unprecedented to demolish part of a structure located within the route of a public highway, leaving the remaining part still in place. My neighbours have had their entire structure approved for demolition, completely demolished and adequate monetary compensations paid to them. Why should my case be different?
“I cannot live alone in the remaining five rooms which are very close to the road. I will be exposed to the risk of kidnapping, accidents and other dangerous criminal operations in the Niger Delta”
She asked the minister to direct those concerned to pay adequate and reasonable monetary compensation to enable her purchase land elsewhere for immediate relocation. She also wants the remaining five rooms to be evaluated and approved for demolition and adequate additional monetary compensation approved and paid to her for the five rooms and the orange tree.
Others present urged the minister to commence investigation into alleged fraud perpetuated by the officials and order the ministry to pay the compensation to avert fresh crisis.
“We would not fold our arms and watch any act of inhuman treatment and intimidation by government officials and the construction company.
‘Unless the ministry complies with the demands within one week, we will commence necessary legal action.” They boasted