Thugs, armed men invade Real Estate Awka
By Franz Ndulue/Lawrence Nwimo
There was pandemonium at the Real Estate, Awka, capital of Anambra State, as a group of young men suspected to be hired thugs, invaded the sprawling workers’ residential quarters with armed officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to forcibly evict some of the occupants.
According to eye witness accounts, the invaders allegedly led by a senior civil servant (names withheld), who claimed to be a staff of the State Ministry of Finance, stormed the estate in the morning hours, on Tuesday (July 20), accompanied by the thugs numbering about 17 with three fully armed NSCDC officers, and attacked the hapless residents in a bid to eject them by force from their houses.
One of the victims, Prof. Emma Uzoma Odukwe, a senior journalist and retired Director of Education in the State Ministry of Education, told journalists that the state government built and officially allocated them the houses in the estate under owner/occupier basis during the defunct military administration of Col. Mike Attah (rtd) through secret balloting.
Prof. Odukwe, who was brutally manhandled while his household property was thrown out into the open space by the invaders, further disclosed that he and other occupants had been living in the estate mor than thirty years until 2005 when the problem crept up, and they (owner/occupiers) had no other option than to institute legal action against the state government for ostensibly breaching their original agreement.
The suit had advanced to the Supreme Court, Abuja, and the concerned parties still awaiting the outcome of the litigation when “strange unsigned quit notices were pasted on the gates of our compounds, purportedly from the office of the Head of Service (HOS),” Prof. Odukwe narrated.
Astonished by the said suspicious eviction order, the disparaged residents contacted their counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu SAN, whose law chamber immediately intervened through a letter to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, dated 2nd October, 2020, signed by Barr. Ben Osaka, requesting the AG to “call the Head of Service and his officers to order.”
The lawyer in the letter under reference, drew the AG’s attention to the case pending at the Supreme, entitled: “ACTS OF HEAD OF SERVICE TO UNDERMINE THE PROCEEDINGS PENDING AT THE SUPREME COURT RE: SUIT NO. SC.185/2016: ELDER C.C. MBALU & ORS vs. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL & ANOR.”
Part of the letter read: “Our clients are bonafide allottees/occupiers of an estate erected by the State Government based on the owner occupier status Law No. 6 of 2002 enacted by Anambra State House of Assembly subsequently the law No. 6 of 2002 was purportedly repealed by law No. 9 of 2005 which led to our client instituting an action at the High Court. The matter is now pending at the Supreme Court since 2016.
“Surprisingly, despite your office and that of the Head of Service being served all the processes including the Motion for injunction and the Appellants brief filed at the Supreme Court, the Head of Service and his officers has deliberately continued to harass and intimidate our client with ejection.
“Sir, with respect we call on you once more to use your good office to call the Head of Service and his officers to order, as our client intends to petition the office of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court about the conducts of the Government officials which are deliberately undermining the proceedings pending at the Supreme Court if this threat continues.”
Prof. Odukwe, still narrating his ordeal, however, showed the press a copy of the purported quit notice pasted on his gate which read: “This house has been taken by the Office of the Head of Service, Awka. Occupant is directed to move out within Seven (7) Days,” without any endorsement or official stamp of the HOS which aroused strong suspicion that the invaders were up to mischief.
He said that most of the people living in the estate are retired Permanent Secretaries, Directors and top civil/public servants, saying, “over 90 percent of the residents are retired workers,” adding that the houses were not completed and the owner/occupiers spent huge amounts to fix facilities like windows, doors, security fence and electrification which the government promised they would be refunded but never did, till date.
Calling on the state government to come to their rescue, Prof. Odukwe appealed for the reimbursement of the expenses incurred in completing the houses as agreed, lamenting that he lost some money realized from the sale of his family land, as well as precious household items like electronics gadgets, laptop, reading glasses and documents during the attack by the thugs, the value of which are yet to be estimated.
Efforts to get the reaction of the State’s Head of Service, Barr. Harry Uduh, proved abortive after repeated checks in his office at the Chief Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka.