A Warri based businesswoman, Mrs Tonia Gbemre has cried out over an alleged illegal demolition of her property by the officials of Delta State Ministry of Lands, Surveys and Urban Development.
Mrs Gbemre lamented the action of the officials describing it oppression as the matter was still in court.
Narrating her ordeal to NDV at the site of the demolished building situated at Block 1, Plot 1 at Federal Government Site and Services Layout, also known as New Ugboroke Layout, Ugboroke-Effurun in Uvwie Local Government Area, the businesswoman alleged that the action was carried out contrary to a court order restraining the officials.
Mrs Gbemre noted with sadness that the demolished shops were her source of livelihood and entrepreneurial training for her tenants and several youths who could not lay their hands in any white-collar job.
She explained that when the information about the intention of the official’s to demolish her building first got to her, she rushed to the court and obtained an injunction restraining the action but was surprised when she was alerted about the demolition of her property.
“I rushed to the site and saw people demolishing my property. They were led by one Emmanuel Timiwei, the Zonal Planning Officer in charge of Warri/Effurun and Udu local government areas backed by about 20 armed policemen.
All my entreaties that the matter is still in court fell on deaf ears. “Even, the intervention by sympathizers did not move the officials. I have invested over N200 million in the development of the building.
How do I start again? Some powerful people and politicians in the estate are behind this demolition”, she alleged. Asked why the alleged politicians and people were particular in pulling down her structure, Mrs Gbemre said it appeared they were not happy with the attached shops she constructed on her property.
“They did not tell me specifically that they don’t want the attached shops in the estate. I have all my papers on the land intact except the building approval which is still being processed by Mr Emmanuel Temewei,” she said adding that money was paid.
“Unfortunately, he is the one that led his men with policemen to demolish my property,” she lamented.
Contacted, the Zonal Planning Officer, Mr Emmanuel Temewei, denied collecting any money from Mrs Gbemre, adding that he did not lead the team that demolished the property.
“It’s only the state Ministry of Lands that can approve the demolition of properties. I have no business in demolition of properties.
I don’t even know this Mrs Gbemre you are talking about. So please go to Asaba if you want to get more information,” he told NDV.
Meanwhile, the husband of the lady whose property was destroyed, Mr. Zik Gbemre, described the demolition of his wife’s property as “illegal, brutal and barbaric.”
He said, “All my life I have been fighting for the good of the common man. But what has happened today with the destruction of my wife’s property by the Delta State government under the watchful eyes of Mr Emmanuel Timiwei who led them to that place, is illegal, brutal, and barbaric.
“It is laughable that at this age and time people are still acting like this. A case that has been in court since 2014, someone will just come and carry out demolition while the matter is still in court.
This means that the court is no longer the last hope for the common man.” Also speaking, one of the occupants of the demolished shops, Mrs Lora Ellington, lamented the way and manner her shop was destroyed along with her baking and catering tools without any notice.
Mrs Ellington, a graduate of Mass Communication, who took to catering services to eke a living having tried to secure paid employment to no avail, said she had a job to deliver Friday afternoon, but met her tools and wares destroyed.
“They have destroyed my gas cooker, oven, show glass, baking flour, bread slicer, and I and my six workers are stranded as you can see,” the mother-of-three lamented amid tears.