By Ikeugonna Eleke
Chief Anthony Enu is an Onitsha based businessman who bought a parcel of land in Awka Town in 2019. The landed property was very validly sold to him, with all the necessary documents intact.
Though he does his business in Onitsha and hails from Enugu State, he chose Awka as the city he would reside, even when he retires.
He commenced building on the land in late 2019. Because he is the busy type, he engaged a site supervisor to take care of workers at the site while he did his business in Onitsha.
On a fateful Saturday afternoon, his site supervisor called to tell him that some people who addressed themselves as Awka youths were at his site and had stopped all the workers from carrying out their functions unless a fee of N1 mllion was paid to them as settlement for community youths in order for further development of the land to continue.
Chief Enu rushed down to Awka, made negotiations and ended up parting with N400,000 before work could commence. Just two days after, another group came and stopped workers from continuing, claiming that the money previously paid was made to the wrong faction of youths.
Work had to be stalled for days as Enu made attempts to ensure that they were genuine and that the previous group returned his money. At the end, he gave out N100, 000 to them for drinks before work continued.
Such has been the fate of many people who have built houses in Awka and other communities in Anambra State. In most cases, the already built structures are knocked down by the youths, with the workers thoroughly beaten to intimidate the developer into settling them and to realize they are not joking.
However, the government of Prof Chukwuma Soludo has frowned on such developments and has called for an end to such.
If his government seriously enforces this directive, it may signal an end to the menace of idle youths across the varous communities in the state. This is because the Anambra State government on Thursday announced that it had banned illegal incursion into people’s property by youths to intimidate them into making illegal payments.
This was made known by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Paul Nwosu, after the Anambra Executive Council (ANSEC) meeting within the week.
Nwosu in a press release he signed and made available to Fides, said: ‘The Anambra State Executive Council (ANSEC) frowns on the frequent cases of youth incursions into people’s land with appropriate government titles. This is illegal and can no longer be tolerated.
‘ANSEC has therefore directed relevant law enforcement agencies to immediately arrest such errant youths and prosecute them according to the law. Section 6, sub section (1) of the Prohibition of Fraudulent Practices on Land and Property Law of 2012 prohibits illegal collection of fees on lands.
Quoting the section of the law prohibiting such payments, Nwosu said: ‘Any person who demands or collects any fee not approved by law from any person who is developing or improving on an already existing property in the state shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for five years or to a fine of five hundred thousand Naira or both.’
Though many people have accused Soludo of having beautiful policies, but lacking the will power to implement them, this particular prohibition has been said to be one which will truly show how determined he is to enforce most of his pronouncements as some people believe the youths who have been making money from this may not give up easily.
Also at the ANSEC meeting, the state government took other decisions, including ridding the streets of refuse, rehabilitation of nine roads in Okpoko measuring, 14.053 kilometers at the cost of N4.9 billion and rehabilitation of the abandoned government house at the cost of N6.088billion, among others.