Home News Ex-governorship candidate condemns Enugu demolition, says it’s ‘scary, unconstitutional’

Ex-governorship candidate condemns Enugu demolition, says it’s ‘scary, unconstitutional’

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The Enugu State governorship candidate of the Labour Party in last year’s elections, Barrister Chijioke Edeoga has described as scary and unconstitutional, the gale of demolitions recently carried out by the government in some parts of the state.

Edeoga, who accused the Peter Mbah administration of disobeying court orders and usurping the constitutional powers of Local Government Councils, said that demolishing business places without plans for alternatives would increase the suffering of the people.

Recently, the state government demolished many structures in Enugu, the state capital. The demolitions that affected the Holy Ghost transport hub in the state capital and the Ogige Markt in Nsukka, among other places embarked upon to build standard motor parks in the affected areas.

In a statement on Thursday, Edeoga also lamented the destruction of a private polytechnic belonging to a charismatic preacher and founder of Madonna University, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ede, expressing dismay that the government went to demolish the institution of higher learning in defiance of an order of the court.

“If there have been suspicions that the administration in Enugu State is insensitive to public sentiment and disdainful of the rule of law, the demolition of OSISATECH (Our Saviour Institute of Science, Agriculture and Technology) tended to validate it. It is scary that a government that swore to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is routinely disobeying court orders”, Edeoga said.

He also lamented the dislocation of businesses without prior notice, saying such actions are indicative of the insensitivity of the government to the plights of the people.

He further said: “The demolition of shops, a section of the Ogige Market is also quite troubling. This is because of the dislocation of hundreds of businesses on which the livelihoods of ordinary people and their families are dependent. Interestingly, these businesses were forced, only a few months ago, to pay huge taxes and levies on those shops. It is curious that the Enugu State Government waited until it had collected these levies and taxes before destroying the sources of those funds.

“While it is understood that some of those areas demolished have constituted challenges of congestion and are due for some form of urban renewal, it must be recognised that no urban renewal activity has ever happened in one fell swoop. Development, especially as it affects urban renewal is an incremental activity that takes cognizance of impacts on persons and businesses. A government that is genuinely focused on renewal approaches such changes with the well-being of the people as its priority.

“This is why it raises serious concerns that the government of Enugu State began these activities without any form of consultation with the people and communities affected. More serious is the fact that there was no plan for relocation of those businesses to other locations before the demolition”.

While admitting that many parts of the state needed renewal, Edeoga wondered why government failed to make a relocation and compensation plan before demolishing the properties.

“The essence of government everywhere in the world is the aggregation of the needs of the people into a pool where common solutions are incubated; it is the building of consensus on what constitutes the common good bearing in mind the social, economic, and even personal sensitivities. Democratic legitimacy ultimately belongs to the people, and that is why everything governments do must factor in the sensitivity of all concerned. But it appears that in Enugu State, under the current administration, the government considered its needs to be higher and more important than those of the people. There is no sign clearer that the needs of the people were not considered unimportant by the government than the lack of consultation that preceded these actions. The disobedience by the government, of a court order against the demolition, is also viewed by every right-thinking member of society as inherently tyrannical”, he said.

Edeoga called on the government to take urgent steps to compensate all the people affected by the demolitions, build new markets and accommodate them without cost, and demonstrate respect for the laws and orders of the courts.

“The Enugu State Government must take immediate steps to respect court orders as is the practice in every civilized democratic country. A culture of disrespect to the judiciary is tantamount to disloyalty to the Constitution which provides for three independent arms of government that act as checks on one another”, Ehe said.

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