By Francis Efe, Warri
A Warri-based businesswoman, Ms Tonia Gbemre has yelled at an alleged illegal demolition of her property by officials from the Delta State Ministry of Lands, Studies and Urban Development.
Therefore, he appealed to the federal and state governments of the Delta to come to his aid, claiming that some prominent people in the area were behind his ordeal.
Ms. Gbemre regretted the action of the officials who described it as oppression, as the matter was still in court.
Narrating his ordeal to NDV at the site of the demolished building located in Block 1, Parcel 1 in the Federal Government Services and Site Design, also known as Ugboroke New Design, Ugboroke-Effurun in the Uvwie Local Government Area , the businesswoman alleged that the action was carried out against a court order restraining the officials.
Ms Gbemre sadly noted that the demolished shops were her source of livelihood and business training for her tenants and several young people who could not get their hands on any white collar jobs.
She explained that when information about the official’s intention to demolish her building first reached her, she rushed to court and obtained a court order restricting the action, but was surprised when she was alerted to the demolition of her property.
“I ran to the place and saw people demolishing my property. They were led by one Emmanuel Timiwei, the Zonal Planning Officer in charge of the Warri / Effurun and Udu local government areas, backed by some 20 armed policemen. All my pleas that the matter is still in court fell on deaf ears.
“Even the intervention of sympathizers did not move the officials. I have invested more than 200 million naira in the development of the building. How do I start over? Some powerful people and politicians from the estate are behind this demolition ”, he alleged.
When asked why would-be politicians and people were particular in tearing down her structure, Ms Gbemre said it appeared they were unhappy with the attached stores she built on her property.
“They didn’t specifically tell me that they don’t want the attached stores on the farm. I have all my documents on the ground intact, except the building approval, which is still being processed by Mr. Emmanuel Temewei, ”he said, adding that the money was paid.
“Unfortunately, he is the one who took his men with police to demolish my property,” he lamented.
Contacted, the Zonal Planning Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Temewei, denied having collected any money from Ms. Gbemre, adding that he did not lead the team that demolished the property.
“Only the state Ministry of Lands can approve the demolition of properties. I have no business in property demolition. I don’t even know that Mrs. Gbemre you’re talking about. So please go to Asaba if you want more information, ”he told NDV.
The inhumanity of man
Meanwhile, the husband of the lady whose property was destroyed, Mr. Zik Gbemre, described the demolition of his wife’s property as “illegal, brutal and barbaric”.
He said: “All my life I have been fighting for the good of the common man. But what happened today with the destruction of my wife’s property by the Delta state government under the watchful eye of Mr. Emmanuel Timiwei, who led them there, is illegal, brutal, and barbaric.
“It is ridiculous that at this age and at this moment people continue to act like this. A case that has been in court since 2014, someone will come and carry out the demolition while the matter is still in court. This means that the court is no longer the last hope for the common man. “
Also speaking, one of the occupants of the demolished stores, Ms. Lora Ellington, lamented the way her store was destroyed along with her baking and catering tools without notice.
Ms Ellington, a graduate in Mass Communication, who turned to catering services for a living after trying to get paid employment to no avail, said she had a job to turn in on Friday afternoon, but found that her tools and items were destroyed.
“They have destroyed my gas stove, oven, display glass, baking flour, bread slicer, and my six workers and I are stranded, as you can see,” the mother of three lamented through tears.