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Nigeria News

Nigerian Army Moves To Confiscate Property Belonging To Enugu Resident, Says Military Acquired It During Civil War

Giving summary details of the case, Omotayo stated: “Citizen Nana Ogbodos’ house was unlawfully destroyed by the administration of former Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State sometimes in November 2004. 

A civic group, the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN) has appealed to the Minister of Defence, Muhammed Badaru, to intervene and rein on authorities of the Nigerian Army at the 82 Division, Enugu over threat to forcefully and unlawfully take over a citizen’s property.

CRRAN made the appeal in a petition to the Minister on behalf of a citizen, Mr Nana Ogbodo, which was copied to the Chief of Army Staff Nigerian Army, Lt Gen Taoreed Lagbaja, and the General Officer Commanding, 82 Division Nigerian Army Enugu.

Titled: “Appeal for justice and urgent Intervention; Re: threat to forcefully and unlawfully take over a citizens’ property by the Army Authorities of the 82, Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu,” the petition was dated May 6, 2024.

Signed by the President of the organisation, Olu Omotayo Esq, the group explained that the army authorities had not shown any title document indicating that the property in question situates behind No.7, Abakaliki Lane, GRA, Enugu belonged to the military rather they based their claim that the property was one of the properties captured by the army during the civil war.

In the petition, the group explained that the army Authorities at the 82 Division, in defiance to the letter from the office of the Chief of Army Staff that the matter was under investigation by his office, decided to take the law into its’ hand and supplant the rule of law. 

Giving summary details of the case, Omotayo stated: “Citizen Nana Ogbodos’ house was unlawfully destroyed by the administration of former Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State sometimes in November 2004. 

“In the quest to uphold justice by the former governor of Enugu State Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, vis a vis the Suit No. E/925/2005, filed by citizen Nana Ogbodo, at the State High Court in 2005, his administration gave a COMPENSATORY PLOT of land for the unlawful demolition of Ogbodo’s home by the past administration.

“The property is situated behind No.7, Abakaliki Lane, GRA, Enugu. The property was duly registered and Certificate of Occupancy duly granted to the beneficiary by the state government in January 2022.

Mr. Ogbodo, fenced the property round and built a bungalow apartment on the property. The said apartment currently has a tenant occupying it.”

Trouble he said started on May 1, 2023, when some military officers from the 82 Division of the Nigeria Army visited the property and said the property belongs to the Army that it was among the properties they were holding in trust for the state government, and consequently directed that the landlord should furnish the Nigerian Army 82 Division, with all the documents relating to his ownership of the property.

“Mr. Ogbodo, in response vide a letter dated 1st May 2023, duly furnished the General Officer Commanding (GOC), with all his title documents including the Certificate of Occupancy duly issued by the government.

“Thereafter, there was no further response to the letter by the military authorities until February 2024, when 82 Division of the Nigerian Army directed occupant of the property to vacate within 7 days.”

Omotayo, however, noted that immediately, sequel to the vacation notice, Mr Ogbodo, visited the 82, Division of the Nigerian Army and met the then Garrison Commander and showed him all his documents including the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), but the Army authorities only claimed that the property belong to it without showing any document of ownership. 

“On that occasion one of the officers told him that the property was one of the properties captured by the army during the civil war.

“Mr. Ogbodo thereafter got a lawyer to serve the Chief of Army Staff a “Pre Action Notice” informing the army authorities of his intention to file an action against it in the court of law. The office of the Chief of Army Staff in response vide a letter dated 26 March 2024, stated that it has commenced investigation into the matter and will revert back on its’ findings.”

He regretted that it was surprising that in a clear act of insubordination, one Major H.Y. Shehu, wrote on behalf of the GOC 82, Division of the Nigerian Army , vide a letter dated 30th April 2024, directed Mrs. Roseline Okoye the tenant on the property to vacate the property within 7 days. 

The group reminded the Defence Minister that the hallmark of democracy is the observance of the Rule of Law by the citizenry and all the institutions in the polity, noting that the Army in its’ civil transactions and relationship are bound by the law of the land. 

More worrisome, the group decried was the fact that while the office of the Chief of Army Staff is still looking into a matter, an officer of the rank of a Major is threatening to throw out the lawful occupant of the property. “This is a grave act of lawlessness and insubordination”.

“It should be noted that by virtue of the Land Use Act, the Governor is vested with the sole authority over all state land and not by conquest. The only way the military can claim ownership of the property is to show documentary evidence and not rely on the ridiculous claim of the property being among the ones captured by the Army duringthey the Civil war which took place over 50 years ago.

“We urge you to in the interest of justice and Rule of Law directs the army authorities particularly the GOC 82 Division, to allow the conclusion of the due process initiated by the Chief of Army Staff and also submit to the jurisdiction of the court of competent jurisdiction which is now seized of the matter.”

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