There are fears that a piece of land in Owerri, capital of Imo State, belonging to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Staff Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society may have been taken over by a powerful syndicate in the state.
The syndicate, which is allegedly led by a senior government official, is acting in defiance to numerous court orders from the rightful owners of the land restraining the syndicate from forcefully dispossessing them of their plots of land.
Members of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) Staff Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society, have however openly alleged a forceful dispossession of their almost two hectares of land by the syndicate.
In a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, the cooperative society stated that, “The Nigerian Shippers’ Council Staff Cooperative Society Limited in 2013/2014 acquired the piece of land at Umuezu, Emii in Owerri North LGA along Owerri – Aba road to develop into a staff housing scheme through purchase from the owner from the community.
“The land measuring approximately 11002.051 square metres was surveyed and parcellatedin furtherance of the proposed staff housing scheme and signboards mounted at two locations on the land to that effect. Suddenly it was discovered that the beacons and the signboards were removed by unknown persons. This was reported to the State Police Headquarters, Owerri for investigation.”
The society alleged that some government officials have formed the habit of forcefully and illegally acquiring peoples’ land in Owerri and environs using their privileged position in government. The society explained that the syndicate broke the 45 beacons used in survey and parcellation of the land in 2016 and 2017, pulled off and carted away the four big signboards mounted at different times on the land valued at millions of naira.
“When the NSC Cooperative Society learnt of the on-going clearing, it quickly wrote a petition dated 10th August, 2016 to the State Government titled ‘Clearing of Parcel of Land situated at OkohiaUmuezuEmohe in Owerri North LGA Belonging to Nigerian Shippers’ Council Cooperative Society, Lagos Allegedly by the Imo State Government’”, it added.
The letter was addressed to the Secretary to the State Government and copied the Commissioner, Ministry of Lands and Urban Planning, Attorney General/ Commissioner for Justice, Chief of Staff to the Governor, and the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor.
According to them, in the said letter, the Cooperative Society pleaded with the state government to see reason and return the property to the Nigerian Shippers’ Council Staff Cooperative Society to enable it continue with its intended staff housing scheme.
However, till date, none of the government functionaries has acknowledged receipt or responded to the petition. A follow up was carried out by the Cooperative Society by visiting the SSG’s office where one of his special assistants confirmed receipt of the petition and promised they will attend to the matter. They never did.
At the commissioner’s office, Ministry of Lands and Urban Planning Owerri, it was confirmed that they received the letter. However, a staff who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed that the ministry had no hand in the purported acquisition and that the state government had no intention of doing so in the area.
The property in question is registered with the Imo State Government through the State Ministry of Lands and Urban Planning Owerri with the registration number OW/SDR/No.16880/IMSG in 2015 and a Certificate of Occupancy applied thereto.
Following the petitions, the property remained abandoned by the illegal encroachers until in May 2017, the NSC Cooperative Society entered the land and erected new signboards in preparation to commence construction on the site, a week after, the signboards were again illegally removed and stolen by unknown persons.
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