Delta state commissioner for lands, survey and urban development, Chika Ossai, has said that prior to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s assumption of office as elected governor, Delta state government was owing over N800million as rents supposedly unpaid to landlords of properties housing government ministries, departments and agencies across the state.
The commissioner, who said the present administration has paid a great percentage of the rent to the landlords, also said the ministry of lands which was hitherto overcrowded with fake staff has been sanitized, noting that all the fake who were hovering around the ministering posing as ministry staff and deceiving land speculators have been sent out of the ministry, hence decongesting the ministry premises.
Ossai, who spoke to journalists under the aegis of Indigenous Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), said within two years, the state government has paid the huge sums of the unpaid rent, noting that most of the properties on which the government is paying rent in the state are under-utilized.
He said by the time the secretariat being built by the state government is completed, the issue of rent and owing landlords will be a thing of the past as all ministries will be headquartered within the new secretariat complex.
Speaking on the activities of the ministry, Ossai said so much has been achieved to make Deltans happy, even as he said the ministry has interfaced with developers to fast track development in the state.
He told the journalists that there has been crisis in Issele Azagba area, a suburb of the state capital, saying due to the crisis that engulfed the area over the land dispute, the government, based on mutual agreement by the warring communities, has acquired the land for state use.
He also said the Ugbolu area, another suburb of the state capital, has a large parcel of land that was allocated for the past 15 years but the state government called on the owners of the land to present their certificate of occupancy, he said only 98 persons out of the number of people who lay claim to the land presented certificate of occupancy.
He said following their inability to present their certificate of occupancy, the land ownership was revoked, adding that a land given by government, if not developed over a period of time, it is revoked and becomes government property.
He said following the congestion of Asaba and the urge for people to build in the city centre, many present fake certificates of occupancy to the ministry, adding: “When we see them we know them. We send them back. Some agreements are done in beer parlours, these ones do not work.”
He added that government does not revoke land properly acquired, insisting, however, that some revocations become necessary when it over rides public interest.
He said when government acquires land, payment of compensation is done to owners with genuine certificates of occupancy, noting that because of so much compensation is paid, government only acquires land when investors indicate interest for development purposes.