“Federal Housing Estate allottees in Abia on Thursday, protested against an alleged re-sell of their plots of land at the ministry’s housing estate located at Amakama, near Umuahia, the state capital.”- The News
The allottees, operating under the aegis of Federal Housing Allottees Association, gathered in their numbers at the World Bank Housing Estate, from where they marched to the Government House and the Federal Ministry of Housing office at Amakama.
Presenting their petition to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu at the Government House, spokesman of the group, Mr Dan Orji, said that they applied for plots at the estate in 1999/2000, following an advertisement by the ministry.
Orji said that they were issued relevant allocation papers after they “were made to pay between N400,000 and N500,000 for each plot, contrary to Federal Government regulation. ”
According to him, Our members were issued allocation papers bearing plot and block numbers and specific site of allocation.
“We have documents covering Amakama 1, 11 and Evangel Sites,” he said.
Orji said that ministry officials, including the Zonal Town Planning Officer, Mr Alex Edem, encouraged the allottees to pay between N85, 000 and N250, 000 for each plot as development levy.
He said that they were “cajoled” to pay the money on the pretext that it would be used to provide access roads, construction of drainages and payment of compensation to the original landowners.
“What happened to the money, which runs into millions of naira, we do not know because the Federal Government awarded contract for the provision of the site services earlier paid for by us,” Orji said.
He said that the association was worried when in 2016, the ministry began to re-allocate the plots earlier allocated to its members, numbering at least 500, “to new persons and intrests” at the cost of between N2.5 million and N3 million per plot.
He said that already, the new allottees had begun to build perimeter fencing to secure their plots at the estate.
The association, therefore, requested the governor’s immediate intervention towards the recovery of their allocations and all the monies allegedly extorted from them by officials of the ministry.
“The Federal Housing Estate, Amakama and Evangel Sites should be left for or returned to our members as that is the will of God for us,” Orji said.
Responding on behalf of the governor, the Commissioner for Housing, Mr Osita Igbe, assured them that government would intervene to ensure that their investments did not go down the drain.
He urged them to secure their allocation papers and promised that the state government would stop at nothing to protect their interest and ensure that they recovered their plots.
“It doesn’t matter when the transaction took place, government would make sure that nobody would lose what belongs to him.
“I can also assure you that whoever was found culpable in the whole conspiracy to short change you, would be made to pay the price,” Ikpeazu said.
The protesters also went to the Amakama office of the Federal Ministry of Housing.
An Assistant Administrative Officer, Mr John Ezenwokoh, who received the petition on behalf of the management, promised that the petition would be delivered to the management.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters carried placards, with varying inscriptions, such as “Fashola, please do not sell our land to the highest bidder,” “Fashola, stop encouraging corruption,” “President Muhammadu Buhari sanitize Federal Ministry of Works and Housing in Umuahia.”
In an interview with NAN, some of the allottees, who are retired civil servants, decried the development, saying that they paid for the plots with their retirement benefits and life savings.
They appealed to the Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, to come to their rescue and order the return of their plots to them.