From PETRUS OBI, Enugu
Six landowners among persons whose houses were demolished and property acquired by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) for the expansion of the Enugu Airport have been reported dead, just as the legal battle for compensation continues to linger.
Yesterday, the Federal High Court in Enugu again adjourned ruling in the matter, which had pitched the Enugu State Government on war path with the former land owners at the Airport Hillview and Layout. Trial judge, Justice D. V Agishi, adjourned the matter to November 19, 2012 when counsel to the state government failed to appear in court. The move to upgrade the Enugu Airport to international standard led to the acquisition of the land by the government in 2009, through the state Ministry of Lands, with a promise to compensate the landowners.
Chairman of the Airport Hillview and Layout Landlords Association, Mr. Emmanuel Onoh, told journalists after the adjournment that some of them who started the fight had lost their lives. Said he: “We have since agreed to give the land to government. It belongs to government, but we are saying that we must be compensated and quickly. Already six people have died waiting for government’s compensation. Two others are very sick due to the shock they received from government’s acquisition of our land.
“Most of us are still very worried and our health is fast deteriorating because we have not had money to buy another land equivalent to what we bought the land at Airport Hillview and Layout to build the houses some years ago. The landowners, under the auspices of Airport Hillview and Layout Neighbourhood Watch, dragged the state government to court in 2010 when it failed to redeem its promise to pay them compensation.
Counsel to the landowners, Mr. Nwabueze Ugwu, said it was not the first time the matter was being adjourned, adding that the essence was to see if the case would be settled out of court amicably. “Due to the nitty-gritty of the case, we didn’t ask for judgment today.
If we had done, we would have been given. Between now and November 19, we would still wait and see if the government would be positive about it.”