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S4C commends  revocation of illegally land acquire by Okorocha, relations


Stanley Ihedigbo
Civil society group, Spaces For Change (S4C) has commended Imo State government for the reported revocation of illegal land allocations by the immediate past administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha and his relations 
They said that the recent revocation of unlawful land allocations by Imo State Housing Corporation, especially 49  plots of land allegedly belonging to one Geraldine Obinali, the sister to the former governor was  not only a step in the right direction, but further exposes how prime land in choice locations, as well as public properties are parceled out to relatives and political cronies of state executives, at the expense of millions of citizens living in underhoused and inadequate housing. 
According to the Communication Officer of the group, Ms. Olusola Oluwafemi , Nigeria’s exploding population growth, uncontrolled rural-urban migration and spikes in forced displacement have combined to inflame the demand for housing especially in major cities of the country including Owerri, Imo State.
“The country’s estimated housing deficit of 17 to 20 Million housing units which increases by 900, 000 units annually, further accentuates the importance of minimizing inequality in access to land and restraining unlawful housing acquisitions at the detriment of millions of citizens in critical need of shelter.The recent revocation of lands illegally acquired by individuals or organizations in the state has given life to the findings in S4C’s 2019 research, titled ‘Moving from multi-billion naira; budget to improved housing delivery in Imo State.”
“The research tracked government spending on housing delivery in Imo State and found evidence of chronic opacity in the award and execution of housing and infrastructure development contracts. Likewise, the procedures for tendering contracts, contract bidding and contractor selection were shrouded in secrecy, making it difficult to establish the financing arrangements and the actual ownership of certain housing estates springing up in the city, she explained.
The communication officer further said that an example was  the fully-completed luxury housing estate on Akachi Road, popularly known as Akachi Estate, near Naze, Owerri. 
“Akachi Estate sits on over 80 plots of land, and comprises fully-serviced duplexes, flats and bungalows now used as service apartments. 
Substantiated media reports have recently attributed ownership of the estate to the former governor,  Okorocha. Although, the revocation of the illegal allocation to Ms. Obinalli is a step in the right direction, it has not fully addressed the issue of the lopsided housing system where the rich and mighty, with ties to the government, have preferential access to lands and housing infrastructures in Imo State at the expense of the citizens.
“In other to correct this uneven access to housing which has deprived millions of citizens of Imo State of shelter, we urge Imo State Government to give effect to the recommendations in the 2019 Research report referenced above. Among other things, the study advocated for the development of a sound policy on affordable housing policy and the revitalization of the Imo State Housing Corporation as a vehicle for improving housing delivery to the different income groups, including the most vulnerable groups.
“We  reiterates that the right to housing espoused in Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution is inalienable, and the primary component of the right to property guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution and affirmed by the African Charter for Peoples and Human Rights.
Accordingly, Imo State government should not only stop at the revocation of illegally-acquired lands, but also, take further steps towards ensuring that land administration processes in the state are clear, transparent and fair,” she stated.

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