Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State thursday shocked residents of Yenagoa, the state capital, when he led a special team from the state Ministry of Land and Survey as well as that of the Board of Physical Planning and Development to demolish a house and a filling station being built by his in-law, Mr. Walton Liverpool.
The governor, who was accompanied by the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral, John Jonah; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Kombowei Benson; Secretary to the State Government, Kemela Okara; Chief of Staff, Government House, Talford Ongolo, along with several commissioners, noted that he was sending a strong message that the days of impunity were over.
THISDAY gathered that the property was pulled down because it encroached on a two-hectare government land set aside by the late Diepreye Alaimeyeseigha’s administration for the construction of guest houses for former leaders , including the late Melford Okilo and Alfred Diette-Spiff, two ex-governors of old Rivers State.
However, it was learnt that after compensation had been paid by the government to the Kpansia community which originally owned the property, they still went ahead to sell the large expanse of land to private individuals, including Liverpool who is also the Executive Secretary, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), where he was erecting a house and a filling station.
Yesterday’s event also followed the demolition a while ago, of part of the governor and his deputy’s houses during the construction of the AIT\Opolo Road in Yenagoa for distorting the state capital’s master plan.
Dickson told journalists during the event yesterday that the action was part of his vow during his inauguration, never to play politics with the issues of development and security, adding that other areas in the state, including Oxbow Lake, Swali, Agudama and Local Content Board area in Opolo, would be reclaimed by government.
“Today, we are here to signpost the commencement of ‘operation recover all government land’. Any land that is acquired by the government for which compensation has been paid to the natives, families or communities, and overtime, government comes and goes and these people think government has forgotten, they sell the land to distort government original plan, that will not be tolerated anymore, irrespective of who the person is.
“This phase is targeted at those who have trespassed on government land . If the communities received money as compensation and they are still selling the lands, we will treat them as criminals, and the buyers as trespassers. Any structure on that land is considered unlawful and government will bring it down. Our state capital is like a slum and this is because government over time has slept over its responsibility to monitor, now they build on drainage lines, sewage lines, green areas etc. That era is over,” he warned.
He advised all those interested in buying land to approach the Ministry of Land and Survey, for proper documentation, and warned those he said would soon begin politicising the exercise.
“The general interest should supersede private interest. There are people who will be affected in the coming days, weeks and months and you will hear them shout victimisation and politics because they use politics as a cover for brigandage. The people should come first,” he noted.