No fewer than 500 people, predominantly retired civil servants, have raised the alarm over alleged extortion of over N2.3 billion for the purchase of parcels of land from the Anambra Home Ownership Company Limited (AHOCOL), a parastatal of the state government.
The victims, who stormed the state House of Assembly, Awka, the state capital, said individual payments were made to the agency for the acquisition of a total of 22 estates, with 2,868 plots of lands at various locations in the state following media advertisement.
They, however, regretted that they were yet to be shown the plots of lands allocated to them, nor issued their individual survey and building plans almost 11years after full payments were made.
Narrating their ordeal before Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions, Chukwu Miriam, lawyer to the complainants under the umbrella of Ezukoo Housing Estate Co-operative Society Limited, alleged shortchange and unfair treatment meted out to her clients, which she said, had generated severe apprehension and emotional imbalance on them.
You are a stupid extortionist, Asari Dokubo mocks Nnamdi Kanu
She pleaded with the lawmakers to wade into the matter to ensure quick dispensation of justice.
“We plead with you to use your good offices and direct the relevant authorities who may have taken over the responsibilities of AHOCOL to release to our clients the estates and/plots of lands they purchased and the withheld documents,” she said.
Chairman of the Co-operative Society, James Okpala said the decision to approach the House was occasioned by several unanswered letters written to the government, including the State governor, Secretary to the State Government and Public Complaints Commission.
He said: “Some of us involved in this mess returned from troubled parts of the country to settle in our home country. Some went as far as borrowing from the bank and individual lenders to pay for the lands.
“Some targeted moving into their own houses they erected on the land after retirement, but all these are dashed hopes. In fact, during one of our meetings, one of us collapsed as a result of frustration and trauma.”
Expressing satisfaction over the lawmakers’ prompt intervention, Okpala was optimistic of justice at the end of the day, noting that “this is the first organ that gave us listening ear.”
Managing Director, Anambra Housing Corporation, Willie Okafor admitted receiving the complainants’ petitions which were replied, urging them to ensure proper auditing and receipts of properties and monies expended in the process to assist in the investigation.
Chairman of the Committee, Emeka Aforka assured the victims of the thorough and quick dispensation of the petitions to guarantee justice.
“We’ll do a thorough investigation; we won’t tolerate the use of any means to extort money from citizens, particularly retirees. We’ll use our legislative powers to get justice for all concerned,” he added.
The matter was adjourned to July 12, 2021, to enable all parties involved, including Ministry of Finance and Lands, as well as former Managing Director of AHOCOL Dr Uche Ezeokafor to be contacted ahead of next hearing.