ENUGU – The residents of Maryland layout in Enugu state have expressed worried over the manner the newly appointed Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu and his wife are alleged to be involved in illegal grabbing of the Command land meant for Police Station.
They have therefore, implored the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, himself a former resident of Maryland layout, Enugu to stop the construction work immediately.
The residents have also called for a thorough investigation of the matter with a view to bringing the Commissioner of Police to book if found wanting.
Our sources said his wife is now building a set of shops on the site with incredible speed, working day and night, apparently to complete the project before the CP’s retirement.
It is gathered and strangely too, that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Uwani, Enugu appears in the picture as he is personally supervising the project on their behalf.
The land was said to have been donated by Professor Godwin Odenigwe and family in 1980 for the purpose of building a Police Station and on which the Professor built a Police Post for the community.
However today, the citizens of Maryland layout Enugu are crying foul as a set of shops owned by the new Police Commissioner and his wife is being erected on the site. They have therefore vowed not to surrender to the tyranny and tension is quietly building up in the area.
Our careful investigation of the ownership of the land in question, situated at Mgbulumguon, gbu) Amechi Awkunanaw along Ugwuaji Village Road, Enugu, and measuring over 6,000 square meters, was acquired by Dr. G. A. Odenigwe by Indenture of Leases dated 10th day of November 1962.
It was registered as No. 61 at Page 61 in Volume 332 of the Land Registry Enugu; 9th March 1963. It was again, registered as No. 56 at Page 56 in Volume 352 of the Land Registry Enugu on 24th March 1972 and as No. 45 at Page 45 in Volume 624 of the Land Registry Enugu as depicted on Plan No. E/GA 209/62 and Plan No. OKE/L447/72. In 1973/74.
The said Property was laid into Plots 190, 191, 192, 192A, 206, 207, 208 and 209 Maryland Layout, Enugu.
In the course of our investigations, one Mr. Ani Ugwu, an 80-year old indigene of Ugwuaji Village and a longtime resident of the Maryland layout Enugu, confirmed that Prof. Odenigwe, in 1977, built a palatial mansion on part of the land and it was the only development in that part of Enugu for over 20 years.
Mr. Ugwu then gave a brief history of the Maryland layout Enugu, recalling that when the area was laid into an official layout by the licensed surveyor, the late Fredrick Okoli, his people approached Professor Odenigwe to rename Ugwuaji Road “Odenigwe Road” because of his contributions to the area.
The latter refused. Mr. Ugwu also said he was part of a delegation from the Ugwuaji community, led by their , that approached the surveyor to name the new layout Odenigwe Layout but that Professor Odenigwe, again, refused and instead opted to name the new layout after his favorite saint – the Virgin Mary.
It was Professor Odenigwe who made sure NEPA brought light to the area. He also worked with the Enugu Water Corporation to lay water pipes along Ugwuaji Road and who, during the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) led by then Major General Muhammadu Buhari, ensures that asphalt was placed put Ugwuaji Road to link it to the Enugu-PH expressway.
It is against this background that the people currently bemoaned the antic of the police commissioner, pleading that the philanthropy and good memories of such a decent man as Prof Odenigwe should not be diminished by the untoward development being contemplated on the site.
Many have wondered why a senior police officer, and a grandfather, with two months to retirement should choose impunity as his exit profile and strategy. Could the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ENCTDA) have given him building approval for land that does not belong to him, or given the nod for anyone to build a row of shops next to a police post?
Mr. Okezie Okeke, a lawyer and longtime resident of Maryland layout, Enugu, told us that “a prima-facie case of corruption is established when public officials are allegedly influenced to act contrary to their obligations of office by the prospect of financial gain to themselves or family members.”
Accordingly, he described the actions of the Enugu Commissioner of Police and his wife, albeit assisted by the DPO of Uwani Police Station, Enugu as the highest level of corruption, abuse of office, conspiracy to act corruptly, illicit self-enrichment, arrogance and impunity that can never be justified in any society.
Another Human Rights lawyer in Enugu, Chief Samuel Chidolue, believes the Enugu Commissioner of Police, Mr. Emma Ojukwu, must step down or be removed immediately in the public interest, and the illegal shops built by him and his his wife within the Police Post demolished to serve as a deterrent to others contemplating such arrogance. He is also contemplating filing a pro bono lawsuit against the Police Commissioner and his wife to produce their “valid Certificate of Occupancy” on the land in question and their building approval, among others.
The IGP recently said, “We are going to be very tough on our police officers who go outside our code of conduct.” Citizens of Maryland layout Enugu are watching to see whether this illegal land grab will go unpunished.
Besides, many citizens of Maryland layout Enugu have a simple message for the Police: the illegal shops being built by an individual on a land donated to an institution must be demolished. If the Police no longer has any need for it, on a land donated over thirty years ago for such purpose, they must immediately restore the ownership of the said property to its rightful owner – the Odenigwe family. Ojukwu was only about five years in service at the time the landed was donated. He is not the Nigeria Police, nor its designated inheritor of sundry assets.
It is important to note that the new IGP and the Ugwuanyi Administration in Enugu frown at this illegal subversion of the rule of law, especially as there are indications that it has the capacity to threaten public order in the State.