The Chairman, Anambra State Physical Planning Board, ANSPPB, Barr Chike Maduekwe has given an Onitsha legal practitioner seven days to retract a malicious publication he made against his person over the ongoing demolition exercise in the state and tender appropriate apology.
Last week, the Anambra State Taskforce on demolition of illegal structures demolished structures at a land near the Governor’s lodge, Onitsha, which was said to be designated for the building of structures for the state judiciary.
Our correspondent had reported that the demolition exercise was the fifth time the state government would be making efforts to reclaim the land, which an Onitsha lawyer, Harold Ekwerekwu is laying claims to.
The lawyer is claiming that the land belongs to the Okposieke family of Ogbolieke village in Onitsha, Onitsha North Council Area of Anambra State, having reverted back to the family after a 100-year lease agreement with the Federal Government.
According to Maduekwe, Ekwerekwu had gone ahead to publish false information on the media that he led the demolition exercise because he refused to grant his request to be given a plot of land in the said parcel of land.
In the publication, Ekwerekwu had alleged that Maduekwe is unfit to hold public office, urging Governor Soludo to immediately checkmate his activities.
But in a reaction to the allegations in his office in Awka, Barr Maduekwe who described the allegations as totally false, said he and members of the taskforce were only carrying out the directives of the state government to reclaim government lands on which people had encroached.
“This is a land at Onitsha, which government had designated for building of structures for judges.
“This same gentleman by name Harold Ekwerekwu has been claiming the land as belonging to his family.
“When we first went to recover the land, I was told that he was begging that we should give him part of the land.
“Each time government sends the taskforce to go there, after we leave he will start rebuilding and fencing the place.
“He has done that severally and throughout the administration of Governor Willie Obiano, he did the same thing four times.
“Last week Thursday, we were asked to go that he has built the walls again. This time around, he has blocked the government gate and put his own.
“When we arrived, we saw he had already fenced out a structure built on the site by the Ministry of Housing. We also found that he put charms in two big coffins to prevent us from performing our work.
“Of course, we demolished the structures and recovered the land for government.
“Suddenly last night, I started getting calls from all over the world that the man said that the reason I demolished the structures on the said land, was because I demanded for a parcel of land and he refused.
“Let me put in on record, I have not personal interest on that land.
“We have an assignment given to us by government and that assignment is to recover government land on which people have encroached and interlopers are doing all kinds of funny things,” Maduekwe explained.
Maduekwe made it clear that he never made any demands from the Onitsha lawyer.
“By the way, before this year, I had only spoken to him when he called me on the phone and I advised him to take his papers to the Chief Judge of the state if he feels he has a genuine argument.
“The next time I saw him was the day I joined the governor to meet with landlords in Onitsha whose buildings were marked for demolition.
“He walked up to me and stretched forth his hand and introduced himself.
“I acknowledged, greeted him and walked away.
“So where did we meet to discuss the issue of giving me a parcel of land?” Maduekwe queried.
The ANSPPB boss regretted that instead of the said Ekwerekwu to heed the advice he personally gave to him on phone, he has resorted to blackmail to tarnish his reputation and to publish an article which he circulated widely on various platforms that is unfit to hold public office.
While handing him seven days to retract the malicious publications and tender appropriate apology, Maduekwe also said his lawyers have been directed to file a petition against Ekwerekwu before the legal practitioners’ disciplinary committee to explain how he made such demands from him.
He said; “I use this opportunity to give Harold Ekwerekwu seven days to retract what he had published and publish an appropriate apology.
“He will receive a letter today from my lawyers. My lawyers will also file a petition against him at the Disciplinary Committee because it is a heady thing to accuse a legal practitioner of such heinous crime.
“If what he is saying is true, it is what we call ‘Conduct Incompatible’ with the status of a legal practitioner.
“So he should come before the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee and explain where I made such demands, since we both are lawyers.”