New Telegraph

Traders, Uyo varsity on war path over alleged selective demolition of property

Traders and shop owners in the University of Uyo, Uyo, Annex Campus have raised the alarm over what they claimed was selective demolition of some shops in the area by the management of the Akwa Ibom State-owned institution. Our Correspondent learnt that a demolition team of the institution, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nyaudo Ndaeyo had not too long ago, stormed the area and allegedly pulled down some container shops while leaving out others.

It was further gathered that the victims were not given the opportunity to evacuate their property as the VC allegedly instructed the bulldozer operator to demolish the containers with the contents still inside them. Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that the school’s management had pasted a two-day notice on the fence directing owners of ‘illegal structures’ to vacate their shops or face the consequences.

One of the victims, Treasure Okon, who spoke with journalists in Uyo on Monday, explained that her computers and photocopiers were destroyed during the process, lamenting that her means of livelihood has been shut as well. She expressed surprise that many other shops in the same vicinity with extensions as alleged by the university authorities as reason for the demolition, still have their containers and shops intact.

“Officials of the university, including the Vice Chancellor, came with a bulldozer and demolished everything. I was even working when they came and switched off my generator, and destroyed everything. “It was not only my place, there were up to 15 shops, they said the place was illegal and before I knew what was happening, the Chief Security Officer directed the bulldozer to destroy the shop.

“So the next day I went to the CSO, he said my place was illegal and I showed him all the receipts I had been paying. He said I should go and meet the VC that he was the one that gave the directive, since then I have been looking for somebody to help me because they destroyed everything in the shop, they didn’t even allow me to re-move anything,” she said amidst tears. However, in a twist she added that the authorities later apologized to her and other victims for the demolition. But the school’s Registrar, Aniediabasi Udofia had in a letter to Okon’s lawyer said she acted against the directive of the university for owners of illegal structures on the premises to remove them.

“It is correct that your client Mrs Treasure Okon applied to the Registrar for space in the Annexe Campus to build a container for a business shop. She was correspondingly issued with a business Venture Payment Permit by the Directorate of General Administration to operate her business in the Annex Campus. “From the representation in your client’s application, she wanted a space to build a container for her business. She therefore had permission, though impliedly to erect a container and nothing more, to do her business. Your client by erecting something else other than a container had rendered that structure illegal.

She was so informed. “In any case, the authorities had issued adequate and sufficient notices to business owners/operations in the university, your client inclusive, to remove all illegal structures on the university’s land. Your client had enough time to have acted wisely, but she blatantly disregarded the notices,” the letter had explained.

The Registrar, who was later contacted by phone, noted that the only people affected in the demolition exercise were those who did not get direct approval from his office before erecting shops and have not been paying directly to the university coffers. He hinted that design for a permanent structure has already been done adding that the university would reallocate shops first to those who were legally and genuinely assigned shops earlier but were affected.

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