The Ebonyi State government says it has sealed off some buildings in Abakaliki built on areas designated as parks and recreational centres in the city’s master plan.
Mr Emmanuel Igwe, Special Assistant (SA) to the State Governor on Parks Development, disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria, adding that such buildings defaced the city’s environment.
Igwe said that in town planning, certain areas were designated as parks and recreational centres where people could relax, but some individuals contravened such building codes.
“We applied to evict the occupants of such buildings. Not only evicting them, but they will also pay rents to the government.
“That is why we are telling them to relocate on their own because if they don’t, we will pull down their buildings at their own cost.
“They will not only pay rents for the number of years in question but they will also pay for the cost of the demolition of the buildings,” he said.
The governor’s aide acknowledged that some ‘criminal’ elements must have sold the lands to the affected persons.
He said such persons should have made necessary checks on such lands especially at the state ministry of lands.
“We will in addition to getting those who built the houses also get those who sold the lands to them.
“The state government will not pay compensation to them but they will instead, pay fines to the government for defacing the environment,” he said.
Reacting to the development, Mr Moses Oshibe, state Commissioner for Lands and Survey, told NAN that he had yet to receive full details of the sealing off of the said buildings.
“I have asked Igwe (the SA) to bring me his source of information in order to commence my investigation and I have already alerted the state Surveyor General on the issue.
“I will brief you properly after the investigations which will be conducted swiftly because of the fate of the sealed-off buildings,” he said.
The commissioner said that there were laws guiding building activities in the state, saying after his investigations the relevant laws would be applied on the issue.
“The relevant decisions will not be taken by just me or the ministry but by the state government, headed by the governor whom I am answerable to.
“I have repeatedly advised, even in the media, that individuals should make the necessary verification from the ministry before purchasing lands or other property.
“They should come to the ministry for us to verify, check the relevant titles to see whether the lands they want to purchase are free or encumbered
“We are always available for assistance and if the land is not free, we will advise the buyer not to buy in order not to waste his money,” he said.
One of the owners of the affected buildings who spoke under the condition of anonymity said that he was making the necessary consultations before deciding on the action to take.
“My building was sealed off at Nna street in Abakaliki but the people I contacted advised me to tarry to see if it can be resolved amicably,” he said