By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Association of Ebonyi Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has condemned an alleged sale of a landed property belonging to the Ebonyi state government in Lagos.
The said property is located at No. 19A Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Maryland, Lagos state.
Raising the alarm through a statement signed and made available to newsmen Wednesday in Abuja by AESID’s President-General, Worldwide, Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu, said the land is the only property owned by the Ebonyi state government in Lagos state, is a 2-acres of land with an erected and furnished two-storey building situated on it and strategically-located on a highbrow area, directly opposite the Ikeja Military cantonment, Lagos.
Oluchukwu said some Ebonyians occupying the said premises and doing their businesses have made certain unofficial disclosures regarding an alleged plot by someone close to the state government to sale the property in question.
“To this end therefore, we have been fully informed about the serving of notices to various occupants of the said property to quit same for the alleged eventual take-over of it by the said buyers of the property whose identities, terms of agreements and rate of purchase have remained a top secret known only to the Umahis. We gathered therefore that some of the traders around the area have already complied with the notice by vacating the said premises which had been placed on rent to Coscharis for N50 million annually to the state which helped to shore up the State’s revenue-base.
“Firstly, is the Umahi government aware that Ebonyi indigenes living in and others doing businesses within the said premises have been served notices to quit the said apartments? If indeed, it is to their knowledge, who is behind such notices?
“Secondly, did the Umahi-led administration either through the Governor himself, his very powerful and influential brothers and or including any of his ‘less-powerful’ Exco members at any point raise the issue of selling, leasing or even quitting the tenants of the said massive land before an Exco either for deliberation or consideration as was often the case even in the government of Elechi where he served as a Deputy Governor?
“Thirdly, was the said property ever advertised either in the print, electronic or even the social media as being on sale for interested members of the public to perhaps competitively bid and lobby for it as stipulated in our laws? Who exactly is behind this outlandish dubious plot to sell-off what belongs to the entire Ebonyians without recourse to due process of the law as though it is now a private property? These questions, now on the lips of many Ebonyians deserve very modest and urgent answers and Governor Umahi cannot continue to live in denial or pretences regarding these.
“Whereas, we condemn in its entirety the said moves to sell-off Ebonyi property in any part of the country, which our ancestors and elders fought very hard to bequeath to our generation particularly the one in question, we quickly call on the State government to come open and declare the actual status of the said property within 24 hours. The Umahi-led administration and his army of ‘very influential brothers’ shouldn’t keep Ebonyians in the dark and continue to run Ebonyi like their personal fiefdom and in the way and manner they have carried on for the past five years and yet counting.”
The association, however called on the security agencies to probe the allegation and unravel the truth.
“We therefore call on security and law enforcement agencies to without hesitation probe this allegation of sale of Ebonyi landed property in Lagos and or any other part of the country where such incident or interest may have occurred without due process and consequently bring those behind same to book as we believe that government is not a criminal enterprise that acts in dubious secrecy, specious hypocrisy and shamelessness.
“This Ebonyi-welfare-oriented organization is deeply saddened by the glaring facts that Governor Umahi despite making Ebonyi much poorer than he met it as we now rank the poverty capital of the entire southern Nigeria based on available and current NBS statistics appear hell-bent on looting and squandering completely whatever is left even as legacy assets and liabilities belonging to our beloved Salt of the Nation. Posterity will never be kind to him if he denies the unborn generation of Ebonyians what their fore-fathers, fathers, grand-fathers and great grand-fathers left behind for them as their pride and legacy projects and belongings.”
The group also urged the state government to remember and fully compensate those affected by the siting of the Airport project in Okarue, Umuoghara, Ezza north Local Area of the state.
“AESID also totally condemn the silence of the Ebonyi state government on the plights of those affected by the siting of the Airport project in Okarue, Umuoghara, Ezza north Local Area of the state.
“The victims who are predominantly peasant rural farmers are numbering thousands have lived without shelter and any form of genuine assistance after being forced out of their ancestral homes and lands by the Umahi-government which forcefully acquired the said land for the International Airport.
“It is our concern just as we have consistently maintained in our initial Press releases on this particular subject matter that the government have allowed these Ezza natives to stay without roofs on their heads while it carries on with its plenitude of political and other jamborees. This is sad, we mean, very sad and least expected of any responsible government needless to talk of those who far less-privileged such as the displaced Airport victims.
“Finally, we further reject any proposal, suggestions or moves to allocate, cede or partition any part of Ebonyi’s vast and arable lands to cattle herders whose marauding influence within and around the State have not only created fears and led to deaths of our people but have caused the proceeds from our farms to dwindle greatly. We say so because Ebonyi has very rich mineral and Agricultural potentials which when left unexploited due to fear of herdsmen would take a further toll on the poverty index cum other ratings of the state which recorded one of the greatest inflation in food prices in May this year.”