Sunday, August 14, 2022

Illegal Structures Demolition in Anambra: ANSPPB Chairman Gives Onitsha Lawyer 7 Days To Retract Malicious Publication & Apologize

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Upon assumption of office by the current Governor of Anambra State, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo in March this year, he made it abundantly clear that all illegal structures and shanties erected in the state must be pulled down even as he warned that any structure built on government land must be demolished and such developers made to face the full embrace of the law.

On July 7, 2022, I-Witness News reported that members of the State Joint Taskforce against illegal structures demolished unapproved buildings erected on the Judge’s Quarters beside, Governor’s Lodge, Onitsha. Going by our records, the latest exercise on the aforementioned location was the 5th time the state government team was visiting the location for removal of illegal structures.

However, Barrister Harold Ekwerekwu who claims the land belongs to Okpesieke family of Onitsha was retrieved from the Federal Government after the 100 years lease agreement between the FG and the family.

In a publication tittled, ” Chairman, Anambra State Physical Planning Board, Chike Maduekwe Unfit to Hold Public Office”, and purportedly released by Barrister Ekwerekwu, he said that Barrister Maduekwe was continuing demolition of the structures in the location because he refused to part a parcel of land as gift to Maduekwe.

Reacting to the development, the Executive Chairman of Anambra State Physical Planning Board, Barrister Chike Maduekwe noted as frivolous and malicious the publication purportedly made by Mr. Ekwerekwu.

According to him, ” members of the taskforce were only carrying out the directives of the state government to reclaim government lands on which people had encroached.”

“This is a land at Onitsha, which government had designated for building of structures for judges.
“This same gentleman by name Harold Ekwerekwu has been claiming the land as belonging to his family.
“When we first went to recover the land, I was told that he was begging that we should give him part of the land.
“Each time government sends the taskforce to go there, after we leave he will start rebuilding and fencing the place.
“He has done that severally and throughout the administration of Governor Willie Obiano, he did the same thing four times.

“Last week Thursday, we were asked to go that he has built the walls again. This time around, he has blocked the government gate and put his own.
“When we arrived, we saw he had already fenced out a structure built on the site by the Ministry of Housing. We also found that he put charms in two big coffins to prevent us from performing our work.
“Of course, we demolished the structures and recovered the land for government, Barrister Maduekwe said.

Continuing, the ANSPPB Chairman said, ” Suddenly last night, I started getting calls from all over the world that the man said that the reason I demolished the structures on the said land, was because I demanded for a parcel of land and he refused.
“Let me put it on record, I have no personal interest on that land.
“We have an assignment given to us by government and that assignment is to recover government land on which people have encroached and interlopers are doing all kinds of funny things,”

“By the way, before this year, I had only spoken to him when he called me on the phone and I advised him to take his papers to the Chief Judge of the state if he feels he has a genuine argument.
“The next time I saw him was the day I joined the governor to meet with landlords in Onitsha whose buildings were marked for demolition.
“He walked up to me and stretched forth his hand and introduced himself.
“I acknowledged, greeted him and walked away.
“So where did we meet to discuss the issue of giving me a parcel of land?” Maduekwe queried.

“I use this opportunity to give Harold Ekwerekwu seven days to retract what he had published and publish an appropriate apology.
“ my lawyers will file a petition against him at the Disciplinary Committee and If what he is saying is true, it is what we call ‘Conduct Incompatible’ with the status of a legal practitioner.
“So he should come before the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee and explain where I made such demands, since we both are lawyers.”

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