Enugu State Railway Workers Protest Illegal Demolition of Structures

Chukwumerije Aja, Enugu 

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On Tuesday, the Nigeria Union of Railway Workers gave the Enugu state government a seven-day to replicate their quarters, workshops, and training school it demolished last week or face legal action from the union. The Nigeria Railway Corporation is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Transport in Nigeria

Addressing newsmen at the sight of the demolished properties, the President General of the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers, Comrade Innocent Luka Ajiji, described the demolition as outrageous and unacceptable, adding that the government carried out the exercise with impunity as over twenty-one billion naira equipment and property was lost by the Nigeria Railway Corporation alone aside other businesses in the area.

Ajiji said that the government of Peter Mbah never negotiated with the Railway Management or the worker’s unions.

He said: “We are here in Enugu today to protest over the demolition of our Properties by Enugu State government. We have properties all over Nigeria and if there is a need for the government to invest in our property there are due processes to be followed which the Enugu state government deliberately and tactically avoided.

 “Ten of our 3-bedroom flats were involved in that demolition exercise. We have a traffic control training school that was demolished, we have a carriage and wagon workshop that was demolished, and we equally have a whole training school of the Civil Engineering Department that was equally demolished. 

 “We find this as totally unacceptable to us and that is why we came, these houses are in litigation because we won them (railway management) at the Industrial Court ordered that the houses be sold as owner occupiers under the monetization scheme of 2004. So Railway Management and the Federal Government now took us to the Court of Appeal. So Peter Mbah doesn’t have the right to come and temper with those properties until the determination of the matter before a court judgment is delivered. Enugu State government didn’t take all those things into cognizance and went ahead to commence demolition of properties that are already covered by litigation. 

 “So if the state government must tamper with any of our structure there are procedures to be followed. We do not know the intention of the Enugu State government. They have not come to talk to anybody from our management. Even the Minister of Transport said he had no idea of the demolition and sent us to find out what was happening to our properties.

The protesters carried placards that read in part, “Governor Mbah, Urban development is not blood pressure and death”. 

“Governor Mbah is demolition of Railway office in your manifesto”. 

“Governor Mbah be a democrat leader and not an autocratic leader”. “You must pay compensation to our demolished quarters”. 

 “Governor Mbah replicate our demolished workshop, training school, civil engineering yard, etc”.

“Governor Mbah, we will not allow you to send us out of work”. “Governor Mbah’s development must be with a human face”.

On the claims by the State Government that it had a memorandum of understanding with the railway property company over the demolished property, and had also paid compensation to the railway property company, the president said it was completely false, asking the government to show evidence of who they paid the money to.

“That is never true, our Properties are never given out to anybody on MoU. That is not true. Yes, you must process documents and you will be given a document for lease. We don’t give our Properties on MoU, they are given out on lease and you must make payment. It is only those properties that are not covered by litigation. For the houses have he spoken with us? It happened in Osun, it happened in Lagos and even in Kano State. 

 “Osun State governor came to us we spoke and our houses were replicated because he knew the implication of what he was going to do, knowing fully that we have judgment over those properties. 

 So, the Enugu State government if he has an MoU with Railway Property Company that MoU does not cover our houses, that MoU does not cover our offices, and so if he has anything like that let him place it on the table. Has he given you journalists, have you seen the MoU? That is not true.”

 On the purported compensation, Ajiji said, “if they are compensating the Nigerian Railway that is their business. Let me tell you that the Railway Property Company is a subsidiary of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, and of course, they manage our Properties. So if he is going to pay compensation for the houses you demolished whom are you discussing the compensation with? 

 “So compensation or no compensation we are not aware. And he has no right to go and tamper with our facilities. That is what we will not accept. He should come and replicate all that he has demolished- ten three-bedroom flats, our training school – civil engineering training school, carriage and wagon training workshop. 

 Also speaking, President General Senior Staff Association, Comrade Emeka Okeke equally condemned the demolition.

He said “The issues about MoU and compensations are all lies. We have made our inquiries and all our people said they don’t know anything about the demolition. As far as they don’t meet us we don’t believe they meet anybody.” Okeke said.

Recall that the Enugu state government before the demolition, had claimed that it had reached an agreement with the Railway Management Company and paid adequate compensation to the Nigeria Railway Corporation.

 

Dominica Nwabufo

 

 

 

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