By Ikenna Onugha
I a concerned citizen of Okpuno Umuogali Village Oba, acting in good faith and without any prejudice to any statutory entity, is propelled by my unending desire to seek social justice and straighten the twisted portion of history, with incoherent pack of lies from Anambra State Government. Now let us consider the specific issues raised.
(1)In 1970s feasibility studies were quickly undertaken and the suburban town of Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area was chosen for the project. Thenceforth, the project became known as Oba Airport.
(2) The first and mother of all controversies came during Mr Peter Obi tenure when he announced that he had carried out an environmental impact assessment of the project at the Oba site, and that the EIA proved that the Oba site was unsuitable for the project. As a result of this new discovery, he said the Oba site was going to be abandoned. The then chairman of the 15-man Anambra Airport project committee set up by Mr Peter Obi in June 2008, Engr Ignatius Ewuzie, said at a press briefing that Oba is inadequate for the airport site for reasons of limited land for expansion, erosion menace and PHCN high-tension cable near the Oba site. The news of the abandonment of the Oba Airport site did not go down well with us who felt that the governor deliberately used the E.I.A. report to deny us a privilege that was long granted to us,the government has not told the people the true reasons for moving the site away from Oba. For one, if the E.I.A. report actually exist,then it would be making nonsense of the administration that sited the project there. Does it then mean that feasibility studies were not done on the Oba site before government started investing huge sums into the project? The said high tension cables, were they installed before or after the site was chosen for an airport? Whatever the answer, can’t high tension cables be relocated? If massive buildings are pulled down and whole towns re-settled in order that development projects could go on, why can’t PHCN cables be relocated? The erosion menace, if it really exists, was it there when the Oba site was chosen? Was it not the abandonment of the site over the years that paved way for erosion to wreak havoc? And why will a government that says it is willing to build an airport abandon an already developed site because of erosion instead of looking for means of solving the erosion problem?
(3)The final stroke of deceit came when the present Government told us that the said Site will be used for industrial layout, We agreed but Emodi shoe was never mentioned till we were divided and later informed it was Peter Obi that gave the green light for Emodi shoe dealers, only to see residential buildings being erected by a land speculator call Mr Nwabueze Umeh who have made life so difficult for my people by intimidating them out off the land with some group army’s that don’t wear their names on their uniforms. This Mr Nwabueze Umeh said that the state Hon Commissioner for lands Sir Okey Moka sold the land to him. The Hon Commissioner told us that 20% of the land have been given back to Oba as compensatory, that means the remaining was sold. My question is a residential building OVERRIDING PUBLIC INTEREST Sir ?
(4)What then can be classified as overriding public interest? The answer to this question can be viewed from two perspectives namely, in the case of a statutory right of occupancy or a customary right of occupancy. Overriding public interest in the case of a statutory right of occupancy means the requirement of the land by the Government of the State or by a Local Government in the State. In either case, for public purposes within the State, or the requirement of the land by the Government of the Federation for public purposes of the Federation; the requirement of the land for farming purposes or for the laying of oil pipelines or for any purpose connected therewith.the other hand, overriding public interest in the case of a customary right of occupancy means the requirement of the land by the Government of the State or by a Local Government in the State, in either case for public purposes within the State, or the requirement of the land by the Government of the Federation for public purposes of the Federation; the requirement of the land for mining purposes or for the laying of oil pipelines or for any related purpose. The major difference between a statutory right of occupancy and a customary right of occupancy is that the former relates to lands in urban areas while the latter relates to lands in rural areas. Other grounds for compulsory acquisition include the requirement of the land for the extraction of building materials and the alienation by the occupier by sale, assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sub-lease, bequest or otherwise of the right of occupancy without the requisite consent or approval. The acquiring authority is required to state one or a combination of the public purposes for which the Land was being acquired in his notice to the holder of a right of occupancy to enable the holder or occupier to challenge the acquisition. In Olatunji v. Military Governor of Oyo State the Court of Appeal, per Salami JCA (as he then was) held as follows:
The Appellant can legitimately protest the acquisition if the purpose for which the land was being acquired was not within the confines of definition of public purpose as defined in Section 50 of the Act. The acquiring authority failed to state the public purpose for which the property was acquired. He kept it up his sleeve. In this connection Waddington, J., said in the case of Chief Commissioner, Eastern province v. Ononye 17 NLR 142 at 143 thus- “the notice merely states “for public purposes” and I find it difficult to understand why the particular public purpose is not stated. When the matter comes into court it has to be admitted that there is no public purpose involved at all; and the impression is liable to be conveyed, no doubt erroneously, that there was something ulterior in the failure to make the purpose public.
The Court went further to hold that the holder of land compulsorily acquired by government is entitled to know the ground(s) for the government’s acquisition of his interest in the land. The learned justice of the Court of Appeal further explains that:
The appellant is not entitled to speculate or fish for the ground or grounds for acquiring his interest in the property in dispute. The best he would do in the circumstance is to lie patiently in waiting until the acquiring authority manifest[s] its true intention. Before manifestation of the acquiring authority’s intention he is helpless not only himself would be helpless the court to which he has constitutional access to would equally be left in complete helplessness.
Also, a land compulsorily acquired for public purpose can be vitiated where it was subsequently diverted to serve private need. If a property is ostensibly acquired for public purpose and it is subsequently discovered that it has directly or indirectly been diverted to serve private needs, the acquisition can be vitiated. The acquiring authority cannot ‘rob Peter to pay Paul’ by divesting one citizen of his interest in a property only to vest same in another. If the acquiring authority can no longer find a public purpose for the land so acquired the only avenue open to it is to de-acquire it and let the same revert to the person in whom it was already vested.
(5)Your Excellency I ask should the people of Oba be treated this way? If the airport or the industrial layout was built and named Hon lfeany Enemchukwu Airport Oba or Hon lfeany Enemchukwu Industrial layout of blessed memories.
(a)As the first Speaker of old Anambra state.
(b) being that his from Oba were this two projects we’re sited, I guess it would have been an honor for this our illustrious son for his contribution to the state.
(6)The Oba – Umuoji road that was flagged off on 24march 2015 is still the way it was before the flagged off
(7)The international market Oba has been abandoned like a shrine
(8)Your Excellency I ask once again now the election is around the corner how do I and Oba people trust the institution of this present Government for protection, support and development of our beloved community if voted back Sir?
Thank you for your attention.
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