· Says aggrieved land owners should seek legal redress
Owerri based lawyer and social commentator, Barr C.A.C Osondu, Principal Partner, Ebubedike Chambers which is located along Port Harcourt Road, Owerri, has faulted the implementation of the Government White Paper that emanated from the report of the Justice Iheka Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Lands and Related matters, pointing out that a White Paper is not enforceable by law but mere recommendation.
Barr Osondu who stated this in an exclusive interview with Nigeria Watchdog correspondent in Owerri on Tuesday expressed disappointment that a government constituted by law could wake up in morning and start making arbitrary orders that will have far reaching consequences on people and of course, the legal system.
The lawyer stated that it is unlawful to dispossess people of the properties they acquired legally, on the basis of the White Paper of a judicial panel of inquiry.
Continuing, he said, “For instance at Shell Camp, there was a property in which a judgment has been given. There is also presently an appeal, yet the state government based on the recommendations of the White Paper has empowered one of the parties in the ownership tussle to forcefully and unconditionally repossess the property without initiating court processes.
“This amounts to disregard for the court and abuse of the judicial process through which the governor himself assumed office”.
Barr Osondu also expressed dismay at the way and manner the Uzodinma administration is negating some of the actions and decisions former governor Rochas Okorocha took while in office stressing that, “it is on record the Rochas Okorocha was governor of Imo State for eight consecutive years.
“Therefore, most of the actions and decisions he took while in office were not in his personal capacity but by virtue of the powers conferred on him as Governor of the state. Therefore, if any person is aggrieved or finds some of the actions and decisions he took unpleasant, the best thing to do is to approach the court and challenge his 8-year tenure and thereafter declare the unpleasant actions and decisions illegal. Anything short of that is equally illegal.
Responding to a question, Barr Osoudu said, there are about twenty-eight cases being handled by my office, some of which judgment have been secured while others are currently on appeal. Yet those who claim to be the rightful owners of the lands in question, are demolishing structures and forcefully taking over the properties without regards for the judicial process. This is an aberration that shouldn’t be condoned.”
Responding to another question, Barr Osondu advised “Governor Uzodinma and his advisers, including the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to take time and read the judgment of Justice Njemanze on property forfeiture very well. There was no motion before Justice Njemanze to make the interim forfeiture order absolute.”
“The ideal thing is the government having published the names of those involved, it should advise them to go to court and seek legal redress. If a panel recommends that your property was illegally acquired, what you should do is to go to court and initiate legal processes to repossess your property.
The Hope Uzodinma government came to power through the Supreme court and should respect court orders and the entire judicial process.”