By Okereke Wilson Ogbonnaya
A middle age woman, Mrs. Helen Ukor Idam whose newly completed building that situated at 2B Nkaliki Road was allegedly destroyed on Monday 26th April 2021, has accused Ebonyi State government through the Ministry of Abakaliki Capital City of being bribed for the exercise.
Narrating her ordeal to newsmen, the distraught woman said that around August 2019, when she began the foundation of the building a certain Mr. Kelechi Ogbonnaya popularly known as “Dopa” come and began to claim ownership of the same property.
In her effort to clarify the issue, a staff of Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey simply identified as Mr. Daniel (now late) was contacted who came and confirmed both the land ownership and its survey plans to be hers.
She said Mr. Kelechi then apologized over the damages and the delay associated with his action and in the long run advised that the project should continue.
“After Mr. Daniel had confirmed the land ownership and other documents attached to the property, Mr. Kelechi immediately apologized to me and even promised to pay damages over the losses which I encountered when he stopped the work.
“But inspite of all odds, I decided to let go of everything” she explained.
She told us that the same problem later resurfaced around April this year after she had completed the ground floor and wanted to construct soak-away pit, unexpectedly, Mr. Kelechi came up again and ordered that nothing should be done at the site any longer, otherwise he would ensure that the woman losses both the structure and the piece of land.
She claimed that some of the documents concerning the building were obtained from a certain Mr. Ikechukwu, a staff of Abakaliki Capital Territory Development Board (ACTDB) whom she paid sum of three hundred thousand (N300,000) only, over the papers.
“Mr. Kelechi had reported me to the office of ACTDB severally where Mr. Ikechukwu and other advised us to go home and resolve our differences due to the fact that the matter does not have a link with the officials’ service”.
According to Mrs. Idam, after she had felt that the problem between her and Mr. Kelechi had been settled, she went further to continue the construction of soak-away pit but surprisingly, the man stormed the site with police and got her arrested.
It was at the police station, Mr. Kelechi began to claim the ownership of the entire piece of land.
“During this misunderstanding, Mr. Kelechi was bragging that he would not relent until he ensures that I lost both the land and the structure therein.
At the police station, the man even tendered a falsified document involving Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) which he was using to claim my property.
“In his desperate move to achieve his nefarious ambition against me, he went further and bribed Barrister Onyekachi Nwebonyi, the Commissioner for Abakaliki Capital City with sum of two million five hundred thousand naira (N2,500,000.00) who hurriedly came to the site with earth moving equipment and destroyed the building of two bedroom flat without considering what would be my fate,” she said.
The victim further alleged that during the demolition, the commissioner seized the android phones of many people who wanted to either take snap shot of what he doing or video coverage mainly to seal the act from being made public.
“I am only indebted to ACTDB to the sum of N58,000 out of the whole money that they charged but look at my position now, Barrister Nwebonyi had damaged my house and other valuables therein”. She added.
She said that she is ever ready to produce the receipt issued to her by Mr. Ikechukwu at the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Housing concerning the building and wondered how the construction which was monitored by the ACTDB officials could be destroyed by the same government.
The woman appealed for help from relevant quarters so that she could be paid for the losses.
Attorney and Solicitor of Nkaleke Unuhu Community, Barrister Ununu Sunday Uguru, where the said property is situate, in his reaction told us that when his attention was drawn towards the government action over the woman’s building, he went to the scene and confirmed the demolition to be true and also found out that the problem started some years ago.
He said that upon his findings, he was able to discover that someone in the person of Mr. Kelechi Ogbonnaya worked against the interest of the woman to the point that the demolition was affected.
The problem started from a dispute over the land which the woman bought from the family of Ogboroko which was surveyed in 2008 and thereafter Mrs. Helen bought it from another person who had purchase it directly from the former owner.
Around 2014, Mr. Kelechi went and surveyed a parcel of land that borders Mrs. Helen’s piece of land and in the process included the victim’s property in his survey plan and went further and secured C of O covering the woman’s land.
After the woman had built her house and wanted to construct soak-away pit, Mr. Kelechi consistently kept on struggling over the ownership of the land and along the line, he went and complained to the Ministry of Capital City, intimidating the officials that the woman had erected structure on the road.
“But the truth is that the woman has a piece of land in the area but her portion does not extend to the road where she had built, about five inches of her house encroached on the road while the remaining portion belongs to the woman.
“That encroachment is the only problem that the woman has and Mr. Kelechi, having seen an opportunity thereby capitalized on that and struck on her, because his plan is to own the land down to the road but after he had seen that the woman was blocking his land, he began to fight the woman.
“When Mrs. Helen Idam came to me, I requested for her approval plan and along the line, I discovered that there was no such document.
“But incidentally, she was deceived because she made mention of someone in that office whom she approached for the approval plan and the person knowing fully that the house tampered slightly on the road, kept on collecting money from the woman.
“And the woman, out of ignorance did not know that the approval plan can only be issued after the structure might have been completed, that was her only mistake.
“The woman honestly believed the staff of Ministry of Lands and as a result kept on working on the site and after she had taken the project to a decking level and also wanted to construct toilet, immediately Mr. Kelechi fought back.
“I had requested for the documents of the two pieces of land and through the action, I discovered the criminal act which Mr. Kelechi had done to circumvent the women’s property to become his.
“Thus, that is the matter, the woman has land in the area, but the property does not get to the road where she extended her house, ordinarily, what she suppose to build are shops but she mistakenly extended it
“If she had built shops in that little space, the structure would have been retained.
“When I approached the Commissioner for Capital City, he told me that it is not possible for his office to demolish half of the building because the house was a single structure and the woman had earlier been served with an abatement notice indicating that she should stop work but because of Mr. Ikechukwu’s role whom she said had been deceiving her, she could not obey the order and Mr. Kelechi, on his part refused to relent as he kept on pestering on the ministry reminding the officials that the woman had not stopped the construction work.
“The fact remains that the woman really extended the construction work beyond her boundary and without mincing word, the house was on the road but if not because of her clash with Mr. Kelechi, she would have continued managing the place but the building would have been touched some other time or years to come.
“Because anytime that government decides to build the road, the house would have been pulled down ordinarily and besides Mrs. Helen Idam’s demolished house, there are other buildings which were illegally positioned without approval plan and still standing there visible in the area.
“If there is need to correct the mistake by the government, the action would have been extended to other persons rather than Mrs. Idam alone, although other structures were affected on that very day.
“Part of the street that links the people with Okposi Street which was equally obstructed with building was also unblocked by the government, he explained.
Mr. Kelechi, when contacted on phone told our reporter that he was not disposed discuss on the matter rather the office should get whatever information that is needed from the Ministry of Capital City.
All calls and text messages placed across to the Commissioner for Capital City Development, Barr. Onyekachi Nwebonyi, were not returned till time of the press.