Rivers State Government and Bayelsa State Government are at loggerheads over an eviction order issued to occupants of two buildings owned by Bayelsa State. The buildings on Akassa Street in Old GRA, Port Harcourt, are reportedly slated for demolition.
The occupants, who have confirmed that the flats on No. 5 and No. 9 Akassa Street belong to Bayelsa State and are legally allocated to them, have accused the Rivers State Government of attempting to evict them forcibly.
They provided a notice from the Permanent Secretary of Rivers State Ministry of Lands and Survey, Sir Alozie Nwala, dated April 19th, as proof of the eviction order.
A crisis is brewing between Rivers State and Bayelsa State governments following an eviction order served on workers occupying two buildings belonging to the latter.
EYEWITNESS9JA learned that the buildings, marked for demolition, are along Akassa Street in Old GRA, Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State.
The occupants confirmed that the set of flats on No. 5 and No. 9 Akassa Street belonged to Bayelsa State and were duly allocated to them.
They accused the Rivers State Government of trying to evict them from the properties forcefully, according to the notice sent to them, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Lands and Survey, Sir Alozie Nwala, and dated April 19th.
The notice reads: “That in contravention of the covenants and conditions contained in the Certificate of Occupancy issued to Bayelsa State Government in respect of plots 34 & 35 (No. 5 Akassa Street) and Plot 37 (No. 9 Akassa Street ) Golf Course Extension Layout, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Rivers State Government hereby gives notice that the occupants of the said property should vacate.
“Take notice that the occupants of the properties mentioned above are hereby given 14 days from the date of this notice to vacate buildings thereon. The said buildings are not only constituting a public nuisance but also deface the Rivers State Government’s Urban Renewal Infrastructural Development Policies as related to the golf course, Old GRA Layout.
“Take further notice that at the expiration of this notice, Rivers State Government will take possession of the properties.”
According to the tenants occupying the 12 flats in the buildings, they have lived there peacefully with their families for many years. They were taken aback by the 14-day eviction notice, which they claimed had already elapsed. The tenants also reported that a group of policemen and Rivers State government officials arrived on Wednesday morning to carry out the planned demolition of the properties.
One of the occupants, Smith Noah, said: “Some people came to paste a notice that we are causing nuisance and defacing the environment. So, Rivers State Government is giving us 14 days to pack out.
“We are not staying here on our own. We are Bayelsa State Government’s workers. I am Head of Protocol for Bayelsa State Government in Port Harcourt here.”
He said further: “We were thinking that if there is anything that the Rivers State Government wants to do with us, we have an office here, and the Rivers State Government knows the office. Ordinarily, they would have served the Bayelsa State Government a notice if there was any reason for us to vacate this place.
“Unfortunately, a few days ago, we heard information that they are coming to demolish this place.”
According to him, they had informed authorities of their state.
“They said we should wait, that they have already served the Rivers State Government a court order,” he added.
Noah said he was angry at the allegations contained in the notice.
“I have been here for five years now. You can see we are removing our things instead of [waiting for] somebody to come and destroy our property,” he said.
Bridget Allison, a resident of the buildings, expressed her surprise and confusion about the actions of the Rivers State Government toward another state government. Allison stated that she had lived in the buildings for 11 years without any issues and found it baffling that such an eviction order was being served.
She said rather poignantly: “The people that came here yesterday said the Rivers State Government is coming to demolish this place.”