By Alfred Agudiebube, Aba
Sympathy and condemnation poured our in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia state as the Okezie Ikpeazu led administration sealed houses on Tuesday morning confining multiple families and restricting them from moving out.
The sealing exercise which started in Aba main town on Thursday last week continued today along Jubilee by Okwunauka Street where several buildings were sealed with the help of heavily armed mobile policemen.
As gathered, some houses which were initially sealed now unsealed after money allegedly exchanged hands in the sum of N100,000 and above.
The sealing was carried out by the Abia State Ministry of Physical, Urban Planning and Infrastructural Development.
Naijawatchdog reports that the sealing activities started as early as 7am when most parents and their children were yet to take breakfast not to talk of moving out for the day’s job and activities.
Apprentices to some of the business men trapped inside the affected buildings were seen jumping out from the gates when some of the police officers shifted away from the affected buildings.
The seal notice pasted by the ministry in the sealed buildings reads: “This property in contravention of section 2 and 8 of the Abia State of Nigeria Urban and Regional Planning Board and Planning Authorities Law 2005 and Law Nos. 4 of 2015 as amended is hereby sealed.
“Any person(s) including owner/occupier, neighbour(s) or passer(s) by who unseals or attempt to unseal this building is in contravention of section 8 of ABS-URPB&PA LAWS Nos. 4 of 2015 as amended and liable to imprisonment or fine or both. Be warned! Keep off.”
Reacting to the situation while our reporter visited the area, residents poured their anger and dissatisfaction with the Okezie Ikpeazu led administration lamenting its constant harassment of residents by the officials whom they described as heartless.
Açcording to Chukwuma Ekwueme, a resident, “How can someone who is reasonable seal a house while parents and children were still inside. I learnt they said the affected buildings had shops erected on their sanitary lanes.
“Must they use illegality to fight illegality? The same government and town planning authorities approved the building of those shops beside the buildings. The tenants they locked up inside don’t even do their business there and Know nothing about those shops.
“My friend who is a banker was locked up in similar situation last week Thursday. He managed to find space to move out. Later they had to pay the sum of N200,000 according to him before it was unsealed. Today they’ve come again.
“You can ask them why they unsealed the buildings they sealed last week Thursday? All the buildings paid money ranging from N100,000, N150,000-N200,000.”
Paul Udenta, another resident said, “Whenever the government need money badly, they will start intimidating people. Of there are shops built on the sanitary lane why not demolish them?
“Why must they come up every time to collect money. Because of one shop, you locked up entire family in a four storey building is that not wickedness? They only need their N100,000 or N200,000 bribe and that is why you’re seeing all these drama.
“That shop pays for sanitation, security and other levies, but when they need money it becomes illegal. These residents they locked up inside, are they the landlord? Is this not imprisonment?
“There was no initial notice to remind people anything before they came to enforce this embarrassing exercise. Yes, almost all buildings here have one shop along the sanitary lane, but sealing up homes while people are still asleep is cruel.”
When our reporter contacted the ministry on the number displayed on the notice, they said the sealing was for lack of regularization of sanitary lane of all the sealed buildings.
They added that they ought to register their sanitary lane with the Town Planning Authorities.
The source who picked the call however said that remind notice were sent to the buildings of which after 28 days resulted to an enforcement notice which after seven days will be followed by enforcement.
The source said that those affected should go to the Aba South Town Planning Authorities so that they will be told what to do.
FROM THE TOWER OF TRUTH