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Armed NSCDC officers, thugs invade Real Estate, Awka

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By Franz Ndulue and Lawrence Nwimo

There was pandemonium at the Real Estate, Awka, capital of Anambra State, as a group of suspected hired thugs numbering about 17 with three fully armed officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, invaded the workers’ residential quarters of the estate to forcibly evict some of the occupants.

According to an 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 of Tuesday 20 July, 2021 attacked the unsuspecting residents in a bid to eject them from their houses.

One of the victims, a journalist and retired Director from the State Ministry of Education, Prof. Emma Uzoma Odukwe, told journalists that the state government built and officially allocated the houses to them in the estate under owner/occupier basis through secret balloting during the defunct military administration of Col. Mike Attah (rtd).

Prof. Odukwe, who was brutally manhandled while his household property was thrown out into the open space by the attackers, further disclosed that he and other occupants had been living in the estate for more than 30 years until 2005 when the problem started, and they (owners/occupiers) had no other option than to institute legal action against the state government for ostensibly breaching their original agreement.

The suit, according to him, 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.”

Astonished by the said suspicious eviction order, the disparaged residents contacted their counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, who sent a letter dated 2nd October, 2020 and signed by Barr. Ben Osaka, to the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, requesting the AG to “call the Head of Service and his officers to order.”

The lawyer in the letter drew the AG’s attention to the case pending at the Supreme.

Part of the letter titled: ‘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’ 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.”

However, a copy of the purported quit notice without official stamp of the HOS or any endorsement, pasted on Prof. Odukwe’s gate and seen by journalists 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.”

The nature of the quit notice elicited stronger suspicion that the invaders were up to mischief.

Prof. Odukwe said that “over 90 percent of the people living in the estate are retired workers,” including “retired Permanent Secretaries, Directors and top civil/public servants, adding that the houses were not completed and the owners/occupiers spent huge amounts of money to fix facilities like windows, doors, security fence and electrification which the government promised they would be refunded but never did, till date.

He lamented 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.

Calling on the state government to come to their rescue, Prof. Odukwe therefore appealed for the reimbursement of the expenses incurred in completing the houses as agreed.

However, efforts by this paper to get the reaction of the State’s Head of Service, Barr. Harry Uduh, failed after repeated visits to his office at the Chief Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka.

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