The Edo State Government has explained why it revoked the Certificates of Occupancy of 11 “government properties” within the Government Reserved Area in the state.
It said the step was taken to recover and preserve the properties of the state government from private citizens.
Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, in a statement on Thursday, alleged that ex-Governor Adams Oshiomhole gave the 11 properties to his political associates as “parting gifts on the eve of his exit from office”.
Oshiomhole served as Edo State governor between 2008 and 2016 and had anointed the incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki, to succeed him in office in 2016 but the relationship between the two later turned sour.
Ogie, in the statement titled, ‘Building demolition: Illegal occupants were ejected from govt property – Edo govt’, said the properties in question included the one “allotted” to a former Deputy Governor of the state, Pius Odubu.
The former deputy governor had challenged the revocation in court but Obaseki, on Tuesday, demolished Odubu’s building, alongside that of two other allies of Oshiomhole.
Many believe that Obaseki’s action was a way of seeking vengeance against Oshiomhole, the former Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, who blocked Obaseki from getting the governorship ticket of the APC in the 2020 election in the state. Obaseki had later moved to the Peoples Democratic Party and won his re-election last September.
However, in the statement, the SSG said the move by the governor was not out of vendetta.
Ogie said, “On December 21, 2020, the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, revoked the Certificates of Occupancy of 11 government properties within the Government Reserved Area which were allotted to former political office holders, companies and private individuals as parting gifts on the eve of the exit of former Governor Adams Oshiomhole from office.
“The properties have been revoked and recovered and therefore automatically belong to the original owner, which is the Government of Edo State. Therefore, the persons occupying the said properties are doing so illegally and are trespassers.
The action taken by the Edo State Government on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, was to evict the trespassers and squatters from these properties and effectively take possession of the assets. Therefore, the claims by the affected persons that their personal properties were demolished are false and baseless.
“It is instructive to note that one of the properties in question to which a former Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Pius Odubu, lays claim is actually the official Lodge of the Secretary to the State Government of Edo State. The implication of this is that all SSGs after Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s administration will not have an official residence.
“Some of those affected, including a former governor, have now resorted to media blackmail when in fact they forcefully ejected senior academic staff of the University of Benin from these government properties, only to convert them to their own private use.”
Continuing, the SSG said, “Contrary to insinuations that government embarked on the recovery of the properties out of vendetta, the truth is that these are the only remaining properties in the GRA that belong to the state government. If they are allowed to be taken over by these private individuals, it means that when government wants to embark on any project within the GRA, it will have to resort to purchasing from the open market.
“The governor has a fiduciary responsibility to protect and act in the best interest of the people of Edo State and will never betray the public trust they have reposed in him.”
Source – The Punch