The Nigerian Army is planning to unlawfully confiscate property belonging to a resident of Enugu, claiming that it was acquired during the civil war.

By Oyoke Chukwuemeka (Fex Born)

The resident of Enugu has been given a 7-day ultimatum to vacate his property, as the army intends to take away his home, alleging that it was captured during the civil war.

A civic group, the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), has reached out to the Minister of Defence, Muhammed Badaru, urging him to intervene and restrain the Nigerian Army authorities at the 82 Division in Enugu from forcefully and unlawfully seizing a citizen’s property.

In a petition dated May 6, 2024, titled “Appeal for Justice and Urgent Intervention; Re: Threat to Forcefully and Unlawfully Take Over a Citizens’ Property by the Army Authorities of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu,” CRRAN highlighted the lack of title documents proving that the property in question, located behind No.7, Abakaliki Lane, GRA, Enugu, belonged to the military. Instead, the army based its claim on the property being captured during the civil war.

Despite a letter from the Chief of Army Staff’s office stating that the matter was under investigation, the 82 Division authorities proceeded to act unlawfully, disregarding the rule of law.

Olu Omotayo Esq, explained that Citizen Nana Ogbodo’s house was unlawfully destroyed by the administration of former Enugu State Governor Chimaroke Nnamani in November 2004.

“In the quest to uphold justice by the former governor of Enugu State Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, vis a vis the Suit No. E/925/2005, filed by citizen Nana Ogbodo, at the State High Court in 2005, his administration gave a COMPENSATORY PLOT of land for the unlawful demolition of Ogbodo’s home by the past administration.

The property is located behind No.7, Abakaliki Lane, GRA, Enugu. It was officially registered and a Certificate of Occupancy was granted to the owner by the state government in January 2022.

Mr. Ogbodo fenced the property and built a bungalow apartment, which is currently occupied by a tenant.

The situation took a turn on May 1, 2023, when military officers from the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army visited the property. They claimed that the property belonged to the Army and directed Mr. Ogbodo to provide all documents related to his ownership.

In response, Mr. Ogbodo promptly provided the General Officer Commanding (GOC) with all his title documents, including the Certificate of Occupancy.

Despite this, there was no further communication until February 2024, when the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army ordered the tenant to vacate the property within 7 days.

Immediately, Mr Ogbodo, visited the 82, Division of the Nigerian Army and met the then Garrison Commander and showed him all his documents including the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), but the Army authorities only claimed that the property belong to it without showing any document of ownership.

“On that occasion one of the officers told him that the property was one of the properties captured by the army during the civil war.

“Mr. Ogbodo thereafter got a lawyer to serve the Chief of Army Staff a “Pre Action Notice” informing the army authorities of his intention to file an action against it in the court of law.

“The office of the Chief of Army Staff in response vide a letter dated 26 March 2024, stated that it has commenced investigation into the matter and will revert back on its’ findings.”

“It should be noted that by virtue of the Land Use Act, the Governor is vested with the sole authority over all state land and not by conquest. The only way the military can claim ownership of the property is to show documentary evidence and not rely on the ridiculous claim of the property being among the ones captured by the Army duringthey the Civil war which took place over 50 years ago.

“We urge you to in the interest of justice and Rule of Law directs the army authorities particularly the GOC 82 Division, to allow the conclusion of the due process initiated by the Chief of Army Staff and also submit to the jurisdiction of the court of competent jurisdiction which is now seized of the matter.”

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