Human Rights Lawyer Makes Case For Waterfront Demolition Victims

…Demands Compensation

A human rights advocate, Barrister Higher King, has said that government should pay compensation to those whose houses were demolished at the waterfronts in Diobu axis of the state.

Speaking in an interview, the human rights advocate said the state should pay compensation or relocate them simply because they are also citizens.

Barrister King said: “Government is not intended to suffer the citizens. Some governors may come up from there. Some governors lived there. Some House of Assembly members lived there in time past so (government should) pay them compensation or relocate them”.

He said that they had justification to be paid compensation.

He also wondered if government was collecting taxes from those who resided there.

The Rivers State government recently carried out demolition in waterfronts in Abba, Afikpo, Ukwuzi, Ojike, Urualla, Elechi and other waterfronts and made those living there homeless.

In Abba, those whose houses were demolished were seen sitting or standing by their belongings which include mattresses, bags, pots, tables with drawers and were looking for temporary accommodation.

Some of those affected had temporary accommodation in a nearby church where they kept their belongings and were living daily life.

Speaking in an interview, Kingsley Emmanuel, an SS II student whose father’s house was demolished and was staying in the church described the situation as “very bad”.

The student said: “My brothers are in Elechi. We stay here and go to take our bath there. Then we come back here again. We need house”.

He said his brothers were not going to school because their school was demolished.

Another resident, Ezekiel Udoudo, said that he had nowhere to sleep since the demolition.

He said there was nothing he could do because he had no money adding that he would go to his home state Akwa Ibom if he had money.

He said: “To pay house here is hard”.

Udoudo said the government should compensate residents who lived in waterfronts so they would use the money to meet their immediate needs.

Also speaking, Chinyere Robert, a middle-aged woman said her luggage was outside while she would sleep in the church.

She said: “And since that day my children have not gone to school”.

The middle-aged woman who is from Abia State said she had lived in the waterfront for almost four years when it was demolished.

She said they were not aware government officials were coming to demolish the waterfronts.

She said if she was aware she would have left her children at home when she travelled home.

She said that the demolition came by surprise saying that she lost some belongings while taking them to safety.

On her part, an elderly woman, Emaa Ezekiel, said although she heard there would be demolition she was told her waterfront would not be affected based on the areas they had marked.

She however said she was able to move out her belongings before her area of the waterfront was demolished.

On what she wants government to do, the middle-aged woman said: “I want government to give me money to collect house”.

Waterfronts in Afikpo, Urualla, Ojike, Emenike, Ukwuzi and Abba were levelled to the ground at the time this reporter visited.

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