Imo govt to restore illegally allocated lands to original owners

...Flags off Owerri-Orlu, Owerri-Okigwe roads reconstruction

Reprieve came the way of Imo people whose lands were forcefully and illegally acquired by the previous government(s) as Governor Hope Uzodimma’s administration has approved the restoration of such lands to their original owners.

The decision to return the lands to their original owners was reached on Wednesday at the weekly State Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Uzodimma.

Briefing the media after the meeting, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, supported by Commissioner for Works, Raph Nwosu, Commissioner for Transportation, Rex Anunobi, Commissioner for Environment Iyke Njoku and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor, Oguwike Nwachuku, explained that Council has adopted the Whitepaper on the Judicial Panel of inquiry on lands and other related matters which covered the year June 2006 to May 2019 as well as the Whitepaper Report on the Visitation Panel on Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH), Orlu.

Emelumba said Council agreed with the Whitepaper recommendation of the Judicial Panel of inquiry on lands and other related matters on the revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued on the lands forcefully and illegally acquired and for the restoration of such lands to the original owners.

The Council also adopted recommendations by the Panel such as the restoration of the Owerri Master Plan which encouraged the government to demolish illegal structures that pose a challenge to the beauty of the Capital City of Imo State.

Emelumba said: “The Exco decided that all public lands wrongly allocated to Individuals will be revoked by Government and returned to the original owners. All layouts whose nomenclature were wrongly changed will be returned to their original names.

“The Permanent Site of Government House which was mapped out and designated as such but was balkanized by previous administrations will be recovered and restored fully, and any structure or building erected in the permanent site will be revoked and removed to restore the permanent site to its original design.

“All other illegal structures erected anywhere within Owerri Municipal and its environment that distorted the original Master Plan will be regarded as an illegal structure and will be demolished to restore the old Owerri Master Plan. This applies to Arugo-layout, Ekwema-layout and other such Government layout anywhere in Imo State.”

The Council adopted the draft Whitepaper on the Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) Orlu, particularly as it concerns the management, and directed that the Chief Medical Director (CMD) be dismissed over fraudulent practices.

The CMD of IMSUTH, Dr. Chukwuma Duru, is to be handed over to the security agencies for further investigation over his involvement in the padding of the wage bill of the school from N147 million in December, 2019 to N236 million in January, 2020.

Emelumba explained: “It is difficult to explain how under the watch of the Management of IMSUTH people who are administrative staff are paid teaching and clinical allowances which are contrary to the provisions for such institutions.  It is equally of note that the Whitepaper on the panel revealed that the finance of the institution was not audited for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 yet they were operating and carrying out financial transactions outside budgetary provisions. There were no records of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), rather only fraudulent expenditures were recorded for these three years and more.

“For this and many more, the Government has decided to hand over the Chief Medical Director (CMD) and members of his Management to police for further investigations and necessary actions that will be taken with regard to the monumental fraud in the once revered institution.”

Meanwhile, it emerged at the meeting that Governor Hope Uzodimma will on November, 30 flag-off the reconstruction work on the Owerri – Orlu and Owerri – Okigwe roads in keeping with his  Urban Renewal Programme.

The governor had earlier hinted that the two critical roads that lead to the capital city of Imo State will be reconstructed by World- class construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.

On Wednesday, Governor Uzodimma reiterated that works on the roads will commence next week after the flag-off on November 30, and that the construction company will work day and night to deliver on the project within 18 months.

On December1, Governor Uzodimma will flag-off work on the reconstruction of critical roundabouts in Owerri as part of his Urban renewal programme.

Emelumba said seven world class roundabouts in Owerri Urban will be rebuilt with traffic-lights as part of measures to beautify Owerri Municipal.

The roundabouts are Control roundabout, Warehouse roundabout, MCC junction roundabout, Okigwe road roundabout, Fire service roundabout, Emmanuel College roundabout and Naze roundabout.

He said on-going “Operation fill-all-potholes” in the State aimed at ensuring zero port holes, especially during this yuletide will not stop, and that Whetheral road, a major link road to the Government House and Assumpta Avenue and World Bank areas will receive a face lift before Christmas.

The Commissioner reiterated government’s earlier directive to the Commissioner for Education, Prof. B.T.O Ikegwuoha to work-out a time-table for the immediate resumption of tertiary institutions in Imo State.

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