Umahi Flags off ANDP 5,000 Housing Project in Ebonyi

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…Says joint funds by govt, BoI for SMEs underway

The Governor of Ebonyi State, Mr. David Nweze Umahi, at the weekend   laid the foundation for the 5,000 units of blocks for the less-privileged at Umuobuna Etiti Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area.

Umahi, at the ceremony which attracted members of the state executive council, traditional rulers,   businessmen youths and many others, thanked the initiators of the project, African Nations Development Programme (ANDP) for considering Ebonyi State for the project.

The governor   added that a similar project would take place in Izzi Local Government Area and enjoined the people to release their land for such development.

Umahi, who headed straight to the venue of the ceremony from his working visit to Abuja, also said that his administration and the Bank of Industry BoI) have planned to deposit N2 billion each to fund small scale industries.

The governor, in a statement yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Emma Anya, noted that the aim was to enable people engage in productive ventures. He explained that the money would be made available for any group of people in the state with viable projects.

He said: “We have concluded discussion with BoI for the funding small scale industries and programmes. We have offered to deposit in a common account the sum of N2 billion and the bank will add their own N2 billion. With this, any group of persons or cooporative that comes up with viable project today, they will draw from this fund. It doesn’t matter if the entire fund is spent in one LGA. It’s going to be first come first served. This is an incentive to draw our people out to begin to do things with their hands.”

The governor said efforts were on   to settle for investors interested in the development of limestone and salt in the state.

He disclosed that   a multi-national cement company,   Larfage, was at the final stage of establishing the biggest cement factory in the country in Ebonyi LGA.

He said: “We have also spoken to about three investors that are very much interested in our salt and limestone. Nigercem in Nkalagu will very soon resume production. We are also working with Larfage to develop the biggest cement factory in the whole of Nigeria at Ebonyi LGA. They’ are at the final stage of doing this.”

While the governor appreciated the ANDP for the project, he announced that the two- kilometre of road   requested by the organisation would be constructed.

“Your Excellency, Ambassador Samson Omojuyigbe, we want to thank you very much and we will give you all the support. Presently, we have very good road network around this location and the only request you made which is about two kilometres   of   road, the moment you start construction, we will do the road to encourage you.”

Earlier, the Director General of the ANDP, Omojuyigbe, said the new city would on completion alleviate the suffering of the less privileged and   guarantee decent life   for the coming generation.

On his part, the Country Director, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Eze, said the housing project would comprise 5,000 detached two bedroom bungalows and other facilities such as schools, water, electricity, police station, barracks, hospitals among others.

He stated that the occupants would be trained and empowered to enable them have standard means of livelihood.

In their separate remarks, the Chairman of Ohaozara LGA, Nkechinyere Iyioku, and the Commissioner for Lands, Chief Sunday Inyima, commended the governor for attracting the project to the area.

Lagos Appeals Verdict Directing Resettlement Of Otodo Gbame Community

The Lagos State Government has asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of a Lagos High Court in Igbosere which faulted the demolition of illegal structures in Otodo Gbame Community and ordered the resettlement of displaced persons in the area.

The state government, in a notice of appeal dated June 22, 2017, filed before the Lagos division of Appeal Court, said apart from violating constitutional provisions, the judgment of the lower court delivered by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo on June 21, was capable of encouraging illegality.

In the appeal which was hinged on two grounds, the state government argued that the lower court erred in law and misdirected itself when it made far reaching decisions that conflicted with the facts of the matter as placed before the court.

According to the first grounds, the government, through its lawyer, Mr Saheed Quadri, Director of Civil Litigation, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, said Justice Onigbanjo erred in law when he held that the demolition was illegal when in fact there was no demolition carried out in Otodo Gbame prior to the institution of the suit.

Going into details, the government said there was a fire outbreak in Otodo Gbame caused by violent clash between two rival cult groups, and that the fire engulfed and destroyed the entire community with no residents and property remaining, as the destroyed shanties were built with corrugated iron sheets, woods and bamboos.

Pursuant to the government’s constitutional duties, particularly sections 13 and 20, Quadri said the state fire service responded timeously to put out the fire and excavated the debris, while the state governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, consequently visited the community to commiserate with the people.

The governor also gave directive barring re-construction of illegal shanties, and further directed that all squatters living along the riverine/swampy areas or strips in the state should vacate immediately as they pose security threat with the increase in vices and crimes that include bunkering, kidnapping, armed robbery, among others, especially when the criminal elements used the riverine areas as escape route to the hinter land.

The directive of the governor, according to government, was pursuant to Chapter 2, Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

After the directive for all squatters habiting illegally in the riverine and swampy areas in the State to vacate, residents of the riverine areas in the State instituted the suit in which Otodo Gbame Community was also represented, while Justice Onigbanjo on January 26, 2017 referred the matter for mediation but ordered parties to maintain status quo pending the final resolution of the matter.

While parties were still at Lagos MultiDoor Courthouse for mediation, the government said the residents of Otodo Gbame used the period to rebuild the illegal structures contrary to court order, adding that it was the action that prompted it to carry out the demolition in line with orders for maintenance of status quo.

The government thus argued: “The declaration of the lower court that the demolition of March 17, 2017 is illegal and unconstitutional is misplaced and one-sided without considering the violation of the same order of court by the respondents. The demolition was to return both parties to status quo.”

Besides, the government said the failure to effect service of the statutory notices on the squatters of swampy areas within the state was because after the governor issued the directive, the suit at the lower court was instituted, and doing such was no longer feasible until the determination of the suit, otherwise it would offend the doctrine of lis pendens (case pending in court).

In ground two, the government argued that the lower court erred when it held that the state government should hold consultations with the communities before any further evictions, and also provide compensation for the destruction of their properties, contending that in as much as Chapter 4 of the Constitution provides for fundamental rights, some rights contained provisos that made such rights not sacrosanct and absolute.

It said: “There are abundance of uncontroverted evidence before the lower court that the structures built along riverine/swampy areas of the State are without building permit as required under the Urban and Regional Development Planning Law.

“The respondents have constructed illegal shanties and structures without the requisite building permit/approval and the rights under the constitution does not permit breach of a law or exempt anybody whosoever from building without first obtaining requisite approval. The respondents are squatters and deliberately failed to put the issue of title in contention.”

The government, therefore, argued that the order as to consultation, resettlement and compensation was without justification based on the evidence before the lower court, adding that Justice Onigbanjo’s judgment was a violation of Chapter 4 of the Constitution as it sought to encourage illegality.