Demolition of illegal structures and shanties built on drainages and waterways continued over the weekend by the Anambra State Taskforce on demolition of illegal structures.
TNC Correspondent reports that demolitions were done along the Akunnia Njote waterways at Fegge, Housing estate, Onitsha, Louis Mbanefo, Miss Elems, Silas Works among other places.
It was observed that due to the seriousness of the previous demolition exercise which saw the bringing down of a church building belonging to self-acclaimed prophet, Chukwuemeka Ohanemere, popularly known as Odumeje, as well as other churches and private buildings, some owners of structures marked for demolition had started removing them.
Meanwhile, Governor Chukwuma has insisted that the demolition will continue irrespective of who is involved, as his government cannot achieve its urban renewal initiative.
Governor Soludo who disclosed this in a briefing with newsmen in Awka, noted that the buildings being demolished were duly marked and the owners notified of government plan but they remained adamant.
According to Soludo, part of the challenges the society is having that people are not used to having consequences for their actions, but his government will ensure that they begin to face such consequences to serve as deterrent to others.
“Someone called me and was asking whether they will be relocated or whether government will pay them compensation.
“And I am saying that my administration will ensure that consequences for misconduct and illegality are meted out to defaulters.
“We have asked these people who built on these waterways to remove these structures themselves.
“Now they have failed, by the time we finish these demolitions, we will put down the cost of these demolitions and send them to the owners of buildings because it is costing us quite a huge sum of money.
“They should start paying for the properties they have destroyed, the lives their actions have caused their death.
“Four staff of UBA bank died three years ago in a massive flooding that swayed their car into a ditch at Upper Iweka, just because of the actions of these persons who built on top of drainages.
“Even the churches cannot claim to be worshipping God under a structure they built on drainages, which have led to the loss of lives,” Soludo fumed.
The governor, who asked the people to support the urban renewal initiative of his administration, debunked allegations that the exercise is skewed against some sections of the public.
“It is important to note that my administration is not about who committed the impunity but against the illegality that is being perpetrated by the people.
“I belong to the Roman Catholic faith but parts of two parishes of the Roman Catholic Church built on waterways were destroyed.
“They include St Dominic Fegge- Onitsha and Our Lady Queen of Peace, Housing estate, Onitsha as well as Salvation army ministries.
“So, we are not against anybody in particular but against impunity irrespective of who is committing it,” he said.
The governor also warned that officials of the relevant agencies who connived with the developers to issue approvals for the illegal buildings, will also be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law.
Soludo who also spoke on the altercation between the taskforce officials and a self-acclaimed prophet during the demolition, warned that while his government does not support his manhandling, people should not test the resolve of his government to restore law and order to the start.
He also said he has placed calls across to the prophet to hear his story but he did not take them, insisting that he is aware that government plans to demolish the church but refused to comply.
“I strongly believe everyone in the state is entitled to their rights as citizens and as a government, we respect that.
“But we cannot accept people standing in the way of government achieving its laudable transformational initiatives for the benefit of our people.
“Odumuje was duly served and he even communicated my deputy, Dr Onyeka Ibezim and I have details on their correspondence, so he cannot claim not to know what was coming.
“It was regrettably a case of people thinking that we are joking as a government.
“Unfortunately, they are wrong because we are resolute and determined in our drive and until we clear all the blocked drainages and waterways, there is no stopping,” Soludo insisted.