Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions headed by the lawmaker representing Orumba-North state constituency, Hon. Emeka Aforka, has described as contempt the blatant refusal of a former commissioner for lands in the state to appear before the committee for cross-examination on land issues linked to him several years after his exit from the ministry.
The said commissioner, one Enemuo, had been summoned by the Public Petitions Committee to appear before it to explain issues relating to signatures and approvals allegedly credited to him in the ministry of Lands after he had vacated office as commissioner.
The committee frowned on the insurbordination and outright disregard for the state assembly order by the former commissioner and thereafter mandated the incumbent commissioner to re-inform him of the need to respond to the state assembly order but all to no avail as the said former commissioner flouted the summons even when the current commissioner confirmed before the committee that he got him on the phone and short message service respectively.
However, the Committee assured Okpuno community in Awka-South local government area and a host of other petitioners whose landed property were trespassed upon on account of the former commissioner, that the issues would be resolved amicably but they shouldn’t take the laws into their hands as such would be tantamount to a total disregard and disrespect for the admonitions of the state assembly committee.
Aforka stressed that investigations would continue to source for more relevant documents to aid the committee to enthrone lasting peace between petitioners and defendants adding that the committee had equally mandated a former surveyor-general in the ministry to produce more documents to enable the committee to wade into the land matter involving Okpuno community and the state Ministry of Lands.
Meanwhile, counsel to Okpuno community, Barr. Mike Ikeegbunam, prayed the public petitions committee to intervene successfully in the matter in order to obtain justice for the people of Okpuno community as well as expose frauds associated with land racketeering in the Ministry of Lands.
Ikeegbunam therefore suggested that some documents that emanated from the former surveyor-general should be tendered before the committee and kept in safe custody for future reference purposes even though he expressed worry that a gazette of the Anambra State Government was allegedly denied in the course of the investigations.
The counsel to Okpuno community further stated that the public petitions committee had the right to demand any documents that would aid its investigations from the ministry of lands to ascertain the issuance of power of attorneys to different people on a communal land through the fabrication of beautiful survey plans and drawings.
In his defense, the incumbent commissioner for lands, Hon. Bonaventure Enemali, explained to the committee that the state government observed and followed all due processes of land acquisition in the state.
Enemali therefore assured the public petitions committee that the ministry of lands would help source for the documents it requested to enable it to get to a logical conclusion on the matter involving Okpuno community.
The commissioner said that the duty of the committee was to ensure that all parties involved in the land matter were made happy through amicable resolution but emphasized that journalists who were present at the deliberations should be guided properly in reporting the outcome of the interactions between petitioners and the ministry of lands before the state assembly committee on public petitions to avoid misrepresentation of facts on the matter under investigation.
The committee on public petitions however adjourned hearing for continuation of the matter on a later date, urging both parties to allow peace take preeminence in the matter.