Enugu land gate: Allegations heap over lands commissioner’s resignation

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Dr Victor Nnam

A hodgepodge of groups made up of concerned government agencies, organized labour unions and some others have rained knocks on the immediate past Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development in Enugu State, Dr Victor Nnam; who recently resigned from office.

The groups and institutions include; the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUT-TH, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the Trade Union Council, TUC, the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, a former local government chairman in the state and a few others. They variously described the embattled former Commissioner as very arrogant, unfriendly and corrupt.

NULGE in Enugu state, asked Nnam to bury his head in shame and seek God’s forgiveness for all the land scams he allegedly committed that culminated in his forced resignation.

The labour union however insisted that security agencies such as the ones where the union filed petitions against Nnam’s alleged takeover of the union’s developed plot in Independence layout Enugu should be conclusively investigated and appropriate measures taken.

Reacting to Nnam’s sudden resignation, NULGE through its State President, Comrade Kenneth Ugwueze said that the union was still in doubt that Nnam who he said tormented NULGE using land grabbing agents and refused to listen to the cries of pains and petitions of right; would wound up with a resignation letter containing the words ‘diligently’ and ‘conscience’, two critical values they alleged were alien to Nnam’s administrative style.

“If the said letter came from him, then he needs to further the meaning of ‘diligence’. And concerning ‘conscience’, the only way that word could be employed legitimately about his activities in the office, is to prefix an adjunct to form the pertinent phrasal word; ‘guilty-conscience’.

Further, Ugwueze stated that NULGE was allotted a piece of land at Independence Layout, Enugu alongside other professional bodies like the Nigeria Society of Engineers, Enugu State Branch, and a few individuals; by the administration of Sullivan Iheanacho Chime in the year 2012, for the erection of her permanent state secretariat zonal office for the South East.

“We have over the years been in complete possession and undisturbed ownership control of the land. Large scale structural construction works were ongoing until July 2021 when land grabbing agents of the ex-Commissioner, suddenly appeared. To the consternation of well-meaning members of the public, and in sync with their infernal disdain for the rule of law; they wildly claimed ownership of all the lands belonging to Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) and two other individuals (with erected buildings) without prior notice, and without recourse to any enabling statutory stipulates.

“We wrote to the Governor of Enugu State Rt. Hon. Dr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, crying out for help as His Excellency is also aware of our ownership of the land. While the security agencies were investigating and making preliminary reports, the Commissioner hurriedly tendered his resignation letter to avert his imminent sack – especially as his prior claim of hospital stay, began to take water.

‘If grabbing peoples land without due process is a diligent work done by his affected officers and his version of ‘World Best Practices in Land Administration’ then he should blame himself for the act and seek forgiveness from God and so many groups and individuals that he has subjected to untold hardship and dehumanization through his “Ddligence.”

“It is ridiculous for the Hon. Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development to write such a letter of resignation when the investigation is still ongoing and those his senior officers were only redeployed to give way for proper investigation of his ministry which had been on public domain including but not limited to several invitations by the Enugu State House of Assembly. We, therefore, cry out that the investigation by the security agencies be concluded so that justice will be done,” Ugwueze demanded.

On his account, a former Chairman of Ezeagu Local Government Area in Enugu State, Mr Chukwudi Ezinwa had raised an alarm long before the Commissioner threw in the towel.

Ezinwa accused Nnam of failure to diligently act in his capacity as the Commissioner in charge of the ministry in an alleged brazen act of corruption and fraudulent activities of his Head of Departments, as contained in a petition dated 25/5/2021 brought by him with the view that Nnam would set a panel of inquiry or committee to look into his complaint involving the de jure deprivation of his property known as Plot 318, New GRA, Trans – Ekulu, Enugu.

Ezinwa said: “Before the petition dated, the 25th May 2021, and while still in office, I had instructed my lawyers to write the Commissioner in respect of my missing file and land documents at the Ministry of Lands, but none of the petitions saw the light of the day as my land documents and all the letters written to the ministry were claimed and found to be missing orchestrated by a female director who was instrumental to my ordeals and whose relative with the same surname, was found out to have been issued with a Certificate of Occupancy in 2014 over a property I bought from one Prince Onyeka Onyia in 2008. The said Prince Onyeka Onyia, was granted allocation of the said Plot 318, New GRA, in 2006. However, before my transaction with Prince Onyeka Onyia, I searched the Lands Registry and found the allocation to be genuine and the land, not encumbered.

“Thereafter, I fenced the property and put a gate, built a 4 bedroom bungalow, a gate man’s house and a fishpond in the property unchallenged till this moment of reading the article. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I decided to apply for the Certificate of Occupancy of the property that I discovered to my utter surprise and shock, that they had altered every document about the property and termed mine FAKE.

“So, my cause for concern is, how come about the C of O, issued to one Jimmy Ugwu without the due process of visiting the property to see the level of development made by me, and who gave the consent for the Certificate of Occupancy to be given to Jimmy Ugwu, etc. These and other questions were what I raised in my petition to the Commissioner and demanded an inquiry to unravel the mystery which the Commissioner deliberately refused to act upon and that did not go down well with me.

“The failure of the Commissioner to act diligently over my complaint on the unscrupulous, unwholesome corrupt and fraudulent activities of his top staff needs much considered either as a pretentious weakness in veiled connivance and collusion with such staff. No wonder, the Commissioner became uncomfortable and quickly resigned on the ground that his professional HODs were removed by the Governor. Professional HODs indeed or are they professional corrupt practitioners?”

“The embattled ex-Commissioner claimed that Plot 318 New GRA was allocated to one Jimmy Ugwu on November 14, 1995, and obtained C of O Jan 7, 2014. For discerning minds; New GRA was carved out by the administration of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani which came on board in 1999. Yet the land was allotted in 1995.

“The C of O” he said was issued 19 years after, from 1995 to 2014. Who is fooling who? Meanwhile, I took possession of the virgin land in 2008. The commissioner also lied that his Jimmy Ugwu developed the land. This is a land I developed, and I am still in possession. Who is Jimmy Ugwu? Our Investigation shows there is nobody like that. And if he exists why hasn’t he shown his face in all these.”

In a related and strongly worded letter of complaint also sent to the Governor by the son of a former Governor of Enugu State, Chief C.C. Onoh entitled “Before it is too late” Dr. Josef Umunnakwe Onoh, Chairman of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority alleged abuse of office, land racketeering, illegal subdivision, nepotism and acts detrimental to the Ministry of Lands and Enugu State Government. He stated unequivocally that he had reservations over developments in the Ministry Lands under the watch of Dr. Nnam and called government attention to what he tagged ”activities detrimental to the current administration being orchestrated by Commissioner Nnam”. He further alleged that he (Nnam) appointed a fraudulent crony as his personal assistant who brazenly engaged in scouting, illegal subdivision, sale and laundering of funds being proceeds of illegal sale of land on behalf of the Commissioner within Enugu urban division and upon receipt of his letter, the Commissioner quickly backdated the termination paper of his assistant on realising that their fraudulent activities had been discovered.

Further more, Dr. Onoh alleged in an earlier letter addressed to the Commissioner dated 12th March, 2019 that there was a criminal breach of trust, cheating and conspiracy and abuse of office by him. He requested for information and clarifications in unauthorized “carve out” plots within Enugu metropolis and award of contracts to companies the Commissioner had vested interest, unwarranted sale of government land by his designated agents at Golf Avenue, Enugu. Dr. Onoh finally stated that he should not allow the confidence reposed on youths by Governor Ugwuanyi in empowering them to be eroded.

Contacted, Dr. Nnam said he expected his abrupt resignation to ruffle feathers within numerous circles in Enugu State. However, he said he was perplexed by the flurry of allegations and the ripples it has generated. But he is yet to specifically address any of the various allegations against him.

He said that in civilized societies his reasons for resignation would be greeted with praise and commendation and considered noble, brave, a show of great character, integrity, and honour, adding that he was not surprised that his resignation has been viewed in a different and negative light.

He described petitioning and attacking groups at his resignation as faceless and pseudo-groups, claiming it was about the build-up to the 2023 election.

“It is necessary to state here that at the right time, truth must surely prevail. I am not under any investigation by any security agency.

“Let me say this clear here that I don’t have any problem with the governor, I only have issues with some unfair decisions taken by a few people in government against innocent civil servants. The governor is still my boss and I am always grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to serve.”

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