Residents of Akpen village, a suburb in Makurdi, Benue state capital, yesterday wept uncontrollably as a bulldozer belonging to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) demolished their buildings.
The demolition is coming many months after the affected buildings had been marked by the NAF on claims that the villagers encroached on their land.
An angry landlord in the area, who gave his name as Gunji Ephraim, alleged deceit by authorities of NAF, stating that the residents had taken the case to court until recently when the Nigerian Air Force ‘deceived’ them to withdraw it from court to pave way for an out-of-court settlement.
He regretted that no sooner had the case been withdrawn from the court, than the Nigeria Air Force turned round and commenced demolition without giving them any prior notice.
But, the Tactical Air Command’s Public Relations Officer (CPRO), Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa told newsmen that NAF owns about 4835 hectres of land, which was duly approved by the Federal Government, and frowned at the encroachment of its land by unscrupulous individuals for so many years.
He noted that the two communities of Ugondo and Akpen, who initially instituted court actions against NAF and the state government, later resolved to withdraw the case, to enable them settle out of court.
“The legal process gave rise to a court injunction restricting further developments on the land. While the injunction may not be said to hold any longer, given that the cases had been withdrawn from the court, it is sad to note that fresh developments have since began to come up on land”, he said
Famuyiwa further argued that NAF decided to pull down the emerging new structures in order to maintain status quo-ante because it could no longer tolerate this irresponsible act of a few selfish individuals who have continued to exhibit outright disregard for the law.