By Ann Ngbea
The Benue state Urban Development Board has begun a massive demolition of ilegal structures in Makurdi in order to restore the state capital to what it ought to be.
The General manager, Urban Development Board, Dr Saint Gbilekaa Abraham told Newsmen at the end of the exercise that the demolition was in line wit the many promises the board made to the people of the state, adding that more illegal structures will be pulled down.
The exercise was carried out in settlements behind Commissioners’ Quaters ,Gyado Villa, Gaadi,Balewa crescent, Kenvil Park and Nyorgyungu.
“About three months ago,we promised Benue people that we are going to carryout a massive demolition exercise in the state on ilegal structures. what you have seen today is just a tip of the iceberg. The truth of the matter is, people don’t want to comply with the laws of Urban Development and this is causing a lot of problems to developing countries like Nigeria. What we have done is just to alert the people, to let them know that something is coming. If you go around the state, you will see that there are people who have built on water channels, some on roads, some have built without approval. What the board is doing is to let the people of the state know that what they are doing is abnormal and to apply appropriate correction even if it may be hard on them” the general manager said.
However some of the people ffected by the execise claimed that they were not given prior notice by the government neither were they compensated.
According to one of the affected persons, Mathew Luca whose four bedroom flat was demolished behind Commissioner Quaters, the action of the Board has thrown hi into a difficult situation.
“The Government did not compensate us before coming to demolish our house. what will I do with my family without a house to stay and without money? It is so painful” he decried.
A carpentry shop owner, behind Commissioner quaters,Mr Joseph Nyifan said, “they didn’t even give us quit notice before they came to demolish our shops and now as it is, we don’t know what to do” he said.
But the General Manager Urban Development board denied the allegations saying that adequate notice was given to the defaulters.
“We had given them adequate notice. we have the list backed up with notices and we want to believe the development monitors won’t just come back to the office and begin to make some frame up. one of the structures to that I know very well,we served the owner a notice since November 2019, which is approximately a year now. some were served since 2018. those structures opposite Gaadi were served in 2016. if one says that we have not served him a prior notice, he should go to court.
“The truth of the matter is that every society is being governed by law and if for instance in Benue state, we have Urban development law which is guiding the operations of those who are in a built environment. It is best for them to comply with those laws .this is not politics. This is a matter of an institution administering laws governing the built environment” he said.
He dismissed the claim by some of those affected that they ought to be paid compensation.
“As for those who think they should be compensated, it is not possible. How can one build on a water channel, on a road and we ask you to remove the structures and you are asking for compensation? The Benue state government is only being linent, we are showing a level of compassion if not, the law states clearly that once the board removes any structure that is termed ilegal, those offenders have to pay the fine of two hundred thousand naira but we don’t consider that in the cause of doing our legal work”