Outrage, condemnation greet Obaseki’s demolition of properties
AS at 3:45 pm on Tuesday, Mrs Precious Odubu, wife of the younger brother to the immediate past Deputy Governor of Edo State, Dr Pius Odubu was relaxing at home with her children without any inkling of what would befall them in the next 15 minutes.
And from nowhere she noticed armed policemen entering their compound situated off Dennis Osadebey Avenue GRA through another route outside their entry gate. She was frightened but summed up courage to ask them who they were and with indifference she said they asked her if there were children inside the house that she should bring them out because the state government wanted to demolish their house and that as soon as she ran inside to bring out her two years old baby who was sleeping.
They beckoned and suddenly a bulldozer immediately began the mission to bring down the house without even allowing her to go back inside and salvage any personal or family effect she could get.
According to her and other eyewitness, the bulldozer under watch of armed security men including policemen, army and NSCDC reduced the house to rubble.
At the site of the immediate past Secretary to State Government (SSG), Professor Julius Ihonvbere who is now the member representing Owan Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives, the house which is about 500 metres to the government house gate was still under construction, the bulldozer brought down the structure which was nearing completion.
The same scenario played out at the building besides the Police Cottage Hospital belonging to sports enthusiast and marketer, Mike Itemuagbo, where a two bedroom bungalow was situated and was seen also destroyed.
It was gathered that the occupant of the house may have heard of what was to befall him and was said to have moved some of his belongings out of the place but a barber who also acted as security was not so lucky as he was said to have lost some of his personal effects in his shop when the bulldozers came there.
This action of the state government has assumed political colouration as all the affected persons are allies of former governor of the state and immediate National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and is being seen as a case of vendetta rather than state interest.
Odubu, was deputy to former governor Oshiomhole for the eight years he was governor, Ihonvbere was Secretary to State Government (SSG) under Oshiomhole while Itemuagbon though not an active politician initiated the Okpekpe race that brought international recognition to Edo State.
He is said to be a friend of Oshiomhole and also Obaseki. When Oshiomhole and Obaseki fell apart, Itemuagbo was said to have distanced himself from politics and party intrigues.
Destruction of his house too must have been a surprise to followers of the Edo politics.
The state government said the action was taken in the interest of the state and not for any other reason.
A statement by Secretary to State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie Esq stated that the C of Os of the properties were revoked on December 21, 2020 including the one belonging to Governor Godwin Obaseki because they were gifted out as parting gifts by the immediate past governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to former political office holders, companies and private individuals.
The statement said those were the only properties owned by the state government in GRA before they were gifted out which he said would have created fresh burden on government buying land from the public if it needs them for development in future.
According to the former deputy governor, Dr Pius Odubu, ”The information came to me this afternoon, March 23, 2021, that my property situated at Dennis Osadebe avenue has been brought down by agents of the government on the directive of the governor.
”Before now, my attention was brought to a publication in the Observer newspaper in January that the C of O of my property have been revoked without prior notice given to me.
”I went to court in the matter and I am surprised that after they have been served, the government still went ahead to bring down my house with a bulldozer.
“My younger one was in the house when it was brought down and they did not give them notice nor allowed to remove any of their properties before destroying the place,” he said.
The member-elect for Uhunwonde local government area, Hon Washington Osifo (Phd), a lawyer, likened the action to late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.
He said “Gen Sani Abacha, once upon a time, was the most feared General and Head of state in Nigeria. He dished out orders as though he was God.
“He ordered the detention and execution of helpless and harmless Nigerians.
“Although many died of unbearable heartbreaks more than many saw his remains wrapped up in a cheap mat and buried just like that. “Men in power and authority be careful what you do with power and authority at your disposal for it is only transient.
To Felix Isere, also a lawyer, “even if the governor has a justifiable reason to take over the property, they ought to have sent a notice. People were living in Odubu’s house before the demolition but they did not do that even when those people were appealing to them to allow them to pick their personal things, they did not allow them.
“They destroyed everything so it was a clear case of malice and vindictiveness”
A chieftain of the Peoples Demicratic Party, PDP, who wants to remain anonymous but was very emotional said, “I have never seen this kind of thing in my life, these are properties that have C of Os. You started by destroying Kabaka’s hotel, a place you could have used as Covid-19 Isolation Centre or even resident or treatment centre.
“He went to this house and did not allow the residents to take a pin out, the only thing they did was to ensure that there were no children there and then they demolished.
“They were not even allowed to take their clothes, nor foodstuff and they brought the house down. Even King Pharaoh did not do this.
“This is an Odubu that contested with you, you did not have a chance of becoming governor. Comrade took it from Odubu who was to be the governor and gave it to you. The man did not die, you did not pay him his allowances and entitlements. They gave him NDDC, you sponsored people to go to court and stop it. The man did not die. You are the governor. You won the first tenure, you have won the second tenure. Why not face governance and leave this man alone?
“You went to Ihonvbere that worked with you for so long. You brought his property down.
“Itemuagbo that did all the posters that you saw in Benin, the flags of APC with Godwin Obaseki’s face before the 2016 election, all the billboards, whether high or low, the APC flags, T-shirts, fez caps, it was that Itemuagbo that brought them from Lagos, I believe that man spent over N300m to support him to become governor. All those campaign materials that were used to flood all parts of the state. It was this man that brought them. They were unique and at the end of the day what the man has C of O for you revoked it and brought the place down. I have seen wickedness but I have not seen this type”, he decried.
The APC State Publicity Secretary, Chris Azebamwan in a statement described the action as reprehensible.
He said: “It is on record that Governor Obaseki had earlier this year revoked the Certificates of Occupancy (C of O) of the various properties but the demolition carried out while the case is in court is unacceptable because it amounts to a subversion of the rule of law.
“The proper thing is for the state government to wait for the outcome of the court process but apparently because it knew that it was pursuing an illegal agenda, it demolished the properties”.