Save for the timely intervention of the Commander, Air Force Base, Enugu, Air Commodore, C. O. Obiabaka there would have been bloodbath as air force men and men of Nigeria police force were at each other’s neck over execution of Court order at Airport Road Layout, Phase IV and V on Wednesday.
Trouble started when Mr Jude Emejulu, owner of the two layout came to demolish illegal structures erected on the layout.
However, soon after bulldozers started demolishing fences of multimillionaire property illegally built in the land, men of Air force armed to the teeth stormed the layout and ordered that the demolition should stop.
But retinue of the policemen drawn from various police units insisted that the order of the court must be executed. Instead of going into dialogue the Air force men caulked their gun ordered drivers of bulldozers to leave the sight but policemen insist they continue their work. Immediately, the policemen number over 30 caulked their own gun and took positions as they exchange hot argument.
It is a scene to behold as crowd police including journalists scampered for safety, while the policemen ordered the operators of the bulldozers who left their vehicles and ran for their lives to get into their vehicles and continue demolition exercise.
It took the intervention of Air Commodore Obiabaka who arrived at the pick of the fracas to calmed the nerves.
Addressing the owner of the layout, Emejulu and policemen who had already taken covers, said that he was directed by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to come to arrest the situation.
Obiabaka, who stormed the place with four of his men, said that he got a call from the governor to the effect that someone was causing anarchy in the state by destroying property belonging to the government and private individuals.
On seeing the court judgment and order mandating the police to enforce the judgement, the commander said that the takeover of the property needed to be done peacefully.
“The governor called me and said someone was destroying property belonging to the government and private individuals. I thought I would come here to meet a mad person.
Obiabaka said that it was not wrong for someone to enforce their rights “but you have to do it peacefully. You are free to enforce your rights,” he said.
He expressed concern that the incident which had halted some civil works in the airport could affect the reopening of the airport if not properly handled.
Obiabaka appealed to Emejulu, management of the airport and others who erected buildings illegally on the land to have a roundtable to resolve the issue in line with the court judgment.
The Enugu State High Court had in 2017 given a judgement in favour of Emejulu pertaining to the expanse of land in Airport Road Layout, Phase IV and V which is adjacent to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport.
However, previous attempts to execute the court order failed due to alleged interference of highly placed politicians in the state.
Emejulu in suit no. E/ 165M/2020 returned to the court through an application by Motion on Notice for the court to compel the Commissioner of Police, Enugu State and the Inspector General of Police to execute the court judgment.
On June 3, 2020, Justice J. L. C. Okibe granted an order of mandamus compelling the police to enforce the judgement and prosecute anyone that hindered the duly executed judgement.
Addressing journalists said that some politicians in the state, including the member representing Enugu East/Isiuzo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr Cornelius Nnaji and others was behind the trespass on the land.
Emejulu, an architect, said that he bought the 400 plots of land in 2008 from Umuenwene Iji Nike community in Enugu East Local Government Area of the state.
He said that Nnaji and another member of the state assembly threatened to use government machineries to take over the land.
“They brought the state government in the pretext that they want to site the Free Trade Zone on my land and annexed it to the airport.
“I am not opposed to the government using my land for development projects but the right thing must be done. They cannot take my land by force,” he said.
Emejulu faulted the state government for involving officers of the Nigeria Air Force in the matter even when the police had been mandated to enforce the judgement.
When contacted, Nnaji, who was at the scene of the event said that he would not comment on the matter.
Nnaji said “why are you people talking to him (Emejulu)? I will not talk to you.”
Also, the state Commissioner for Lands, Mr Victor Nnam, said that he cannot comment on the matter as he was not so sure about the particular court judgment.
Nnam said that the state ministry of lands had over 100 land cases in the court “and I cannot give you any response because the document is not before me.”