From Joshua Chibuzo Andrew| Owerri
The Principal Partner, Anokam and Associates, ESV Sam Anokam, who is also the Sole and exclusive Attorney for the various land owners from the Host Communities of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, FUTO, who had at several fora, drawn attention to what he referred to as poor land administration and attendant unlawful acquisition of lands by some unscrupulous elements in the corridors of power, has expressed happiness that recent developments in the state have finally vindicated him.
Anokam, an indigene of Umuchima, Ihiagawa, in Owerri West LGA in a chat with Newsmen, said, the then Commissioner for Lands and Urban Planning,Noble Atulaegwu tried as much as possible to debunk what he said, the recent arrest and detention of some top government functionaries have vindicated him and at the same time, given credence to his assertions.
He commended the Governor for his effort towards addressing the issue but advise it has to be holistic and urged him to engage the services of experts who will assist him streamline and sanitize the system which members of the land grabbing syndicate have polluted and messed up completely.
He urged the Governor to go through some of the reports he published in the media about the need for him to check the activities of some of his over-zealous appointees who were taking advantage of his very busy schedule ad liberal nature.
Recall, that Chief Anokam, had in a report published in the May, 15, 2023, edition of Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper, stated that there were lot of irregularities and fraudulent practices that border on the falsification of documents in the Ministry of Lands and Urban Planning, Owerri Capital Development Authority OCDA, and the Imo State Housing Corporation.
In the said report captioned, “Land Grabbing: Evidence of Poor Land Administration- A norm in Imo State”, the renowned Estate Surveyor said, “as at date, the report of the Commission of inquiry are yet to be implemented and are somewhere gathering dust.
Perhaps, the government is confused about what to do even with the inauguration of the State Land Use and Allocation Committee which is star-studded with experienced professionals and personalities.
As things stand now, are we moving forward or backwards? I will not fail to mention the making of two ineffective and ill-advised laws on land administration in Imo State namely Imo State of Nigeria law No 6 of 2022 on Land Use Charge and Law No. 3 of 2021 on Imo State Lands administration and Geographic Service.
These laws cannot be implemented as they were widely criticized by professional groups who sought for an amendment to properly domesticate them to our environment. Land Administration in Imo State suffers from ineffective control and lack of focus. Infact, quackery has gradually taken over the modus operandi in land administration in Imo State. Conflict of interest amongst public land operators, sycophancy, gangsterism and the use of armed security personnel to enforce the civil action of land acquisition are seen as a norm.
The relevant professionals whose responsibilities are to lead and expound ideas to enthrone an effective land administration system for the State have no voice and are relegated to the background for Political expediency. The recent developments of conflict between departments of the State government over the limits of their mandate demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that this administration urgently head to impose discipline and good ethical conduct on its appointees to ensure effective land administration in the state.
Never in history has LUAC worked at cross purpose with the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban Planning or a sister Ministry assuming the authority to act as a land Acquiring authority without reference to the Ministry of land. All these have happened under this administration.
The worst that is happening now is the advertisement of land not acquired by the state government for Allocation to the General Public. Over one billion naira is said to have been collected as application fees for land allocation, and the Commissioner for land is beating his chest in a press interview for hard work in revenue generation for the Ministry. Is this not a scam? The revenue generated from some of these advertised layouts is a scam. A responsible government official cannot advertise to allocate any encumbered land. The land that does not belong to the State Government and indeed subject of suits in Court”.