A widow and mother of five, Mrs Ima-Obong Okon Effiom, has threatened to take her own life should the governor of Cross River, Prof. Ben Ayade, fails to rebuild or resettle her and her children after the demolition of her house by the state government.
Mrs Effiom was on Wednesday left to sleep with her children in an open field as one of the Directors of Cross River State Development Control Agency, Mr John Agim ordered his men to demolish her property allegedly on the orders of Governor Ayade.
According to Africa Today, an online news medium, the agency’s officials stormed the property located directly opposite the Cross River Rice Seeds and Seedling factory at the Goodluck Jonathan bypass at about 11am and hewed down the building, saying the Governor ordered that no property be developed in the area and those developed should be dismantled.
The frustrated widow revealed that the property in question was acquired in 2011 and that all documents were intact.
“My husband bought this land in 2011 when there was no Jonathan by pass road nor Ayade dreaming to be governor, but today he (Ayade) directed this people to come and demolish the only property and sweat left for me and my children to survive by my late husband”, she lamented.
She narrated that her rent expired in her former apartment and due to her inability to renew the rent, she decided to pack into the house that was yet to be completed, but only for them to face such a horrible experience in the hands of a government that claims to wear a human face. The widow, whose husband is still at the mortuary, appealed to the Governor to rebuild her house or relocate her properly.
“I call on spirited Cross Riverians to help us for we have no strength to fight the government talk less of Governor Ayade”.
With a teary eye, Mrs Okon threatened that she will be forced to take her life if the government of Cross River does not resettle or rebuild her demolished property, adding that she does not know where to go with her five children who are in the age range of 3 and 16 years.
A brother to the late Okon, Chief Erete Mkposo while narrating the entire ordeal, said the property in question has all the relevant documents and was purchased long before the new road was built.
He stated that the whole drama started as at February when some government officials marked the property for demolition “and we quickly went to the Cross River State Board of Internal Revenue Service and paid all the necessary fees only for us to witness this kind of inhumane action.”
Mkposo condemned the State Government’s action and called on relevant government agencies, Civil Society Organizations and Rights groups to come to the aid of Mrs Okon for justice.
Investigations further revealed that the property is a two bedroom bungalow located around the Jonathan bypass, and it is said to be valued at 2.8 million naira.
Meanwhile, when Paradise News contacted the Director General of the Agency, Engr. Oxford Egbe on phone, he said “Development has processes. Before you develop in the state you must have approval from government, whether it’s personal or government land. The essence of that is to be sure that you are building on your land. There should be checks and balances in anything. You apply to the government through town planning. You will go through a process and they will give you approval. It’s that approval, alongside your three years tax clearance… There’s a lot of things there. So you go through a process. She doesn’t have all those things. Payment to government does not equal approval. If the ministry of lands through the town planning do not give you approval, when we go out there we would stop your building.
“That building in particular was stopped at the beginning of the year but they went ahead. You are building does not mean you should go and contravene the law. Ask them to show you the approval from government if they have it. Ask them if this people came when the house was at the foundation level, and then when you finish with that get back to me.”