ENUGU—OFFICIALS of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority and Ministry of Environment, yesterday, invaded the official lodge of the state deputy governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, and carted away over 3,000 chickens and about 40 crates of eggs from his poultry on the orders of the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwobodo.
But Chief Press Secretary to governor, Chukwudi Achife, said it was regrettable that the deputy governor chose to ignore all entreaties, including a government directive, to relocate the birds, especially one that had to do with the health of the people.
The ECTDA and Environment Ministry officials, who were led by their commissioners, Messrs Ikechukwu Ugwuegede and Nnaemeka Chukwuone respectively, arrived the lodge at about 1p.m. yesterday to inform the deputy governor of the Chief of Staff’s order to evacuate the birds and demolish the poultry which the government said constituted public health hazard.
Deputy governor watches
Onyebuchi, who was with his wife and personal aides, including security officers attached to his office at the lodge which had been under renovation since September 2012, did not resist the action of the officials who later brought in four trucks and evacuated the chickens to an unknown destination.
When the government officials mobilised by the two commissioners could not evacuate the entire birds, Ugwuegede mobilised more uniformed officials of his ministry who spent about an hour evacuating the birds and the crates of eggs into the four trucks and took them away.
Commissioner declines comment
The ECTDA Commissioner, however, declined to comment on the development when approached by newsmen who rushed to the scene from the nearby Press Unit of Government House, saying he did not invite any journalist to witness the exercise.
But Vanguard obtained copies of correspondence between the office of the governor and that of the deputy governor over the operation of the poultry farm in the government lodge.
Two separate letters dated December 24 and 27, 2013, with reference numbers GHE/CAO/31/239 and GHE/CAO/31/240 and signed for the Chief of Staff by Mr. G.O.C Ajah, Permanent Secretary in-charge of Government House, Enugu, which were delivered to the office of the deputy governor the same day, indicated that the Chief of Staff had directed that the poultry be removed.
Letter on relocation ofpoultry
One of the letters, entitled “Final Notice/Request to stop or relocate the commercial poultry in your official residence” and dated December 27, 2013 reads: “I am directed to request Your Excellency to kindly stop or relocate the said commercial poultry farm out of your official residence as it offends the Statutory Certificate/Certificate of Occupancy purpose clause for which the land is used as Residential.
“I am further directed to state that Your Excellency is given up to 14 days from the date of this letter to effect the desired directive referred to above. Please be informed that (at) the expiration of this ultimatum no further Notice may be given as appropriate action will be taken by relevant Government Agency to effect desired compliance.”
In his reply to the letter dated January 8, 2014, and signed by Mr. Chris A. Eze, Permanent Secretary in his office, the deputy governor said the tone and language of the letters written to him by the Chief of Staff “is insulting and shows disregard to the Office of the Deputy Governor of a State.
“The haste of the two letters shows a mind filled with malice and bent on making mischief, the two letters were delivered to His Excellency’s office, signed for and received on the same day, December 27, 2013. One is a “Notice” and the other “Final Notice.
“His Excellency, the deputy governor also observed that your said letters are replete with falsehood. The official residence of the deputy governor is part and parcel of Government House and no Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is, to the best of the knowledge of His Excellency, issued in respect of it.
“His Excellency challenges you to produce or at least cite its reference number since this is the basis of your action. You may also consider revoking the said C of O.
Putting records straight
“Just to put the records straight, His Excellency has asked me to inform you that the said poultry is operated within a section of the deputy governor’s residence designated and fenced out as Agriculture Unit – same as the Agric Unit of the Government House where a bigger poultry farm, a piggery and a ranch exist. His Excellency, the deputy governor operates a vegetable farm within that section and no mention was made to of it. Or, is “vegetable farm” within the purpose clause of the C of O?
“The structure for the said poultry farm was inherited by His Excellency from his predecessors in office who also used same for the same purpose. His Excellency has operated the same poultry farm since 2008 with technical support from ENADEP and Commercial Agriculture Programme of the State Ministry of Agriculture.
“There is no record of a letter from you to His Excellency, bringing to his attention, complaint of any environmental or health hazard from the said poultry since 2008. This is because there is none.
“The poultry is operated within the best international practices. His Excellency’s members of staff are living in the Boy’s Quarter, just meters away from the poultry and they have not complained of any inconvenience since 2008.
“Finally, it is the advice of His Excellency that you do not allow the love of power to dominate the power of love.”
Vanguard observed that the deputy governor had been residing outside the official residence since September 2012 until Governor Sullivan Chime reportedly asked him to vacate the dilapidated lodge for a renovation work to be carried out on the building.
It was learnt that the renovation work was awarded to the same contractor that handled the renovation of the governor’s residence at the same time but while that of the governor was completed since 2011, the deputy governor’s which was almost completed was abandoned and the expansive premises had remained a thick bush since then.
The contractor was said to have been ordered to stop the rehabilitation work shortly after Governor Chime returned from his four months’ medical trip in London but the reason for the directive could not be ascertained.
The deputy governor had been operating from his private residence at GRA Enugu since the official residence was no longer habitable but he had continued to operate the poultry with the assistance of some of his staff residing in the Boy’s Quarter.
Meanwhile, the state government in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Chukwudi Achife, said the poultry was located in the official quarters of the deputy governor which shared a wall with the office of the governor.
The statement read: “In recent times, the stench from the poultry had been pervading the Government House and causing much discomfort to all workers within the Government House, including, of course, the governor.
“Following persistent complaints and appeals from staff of the government, the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Mr. GOC Ajah, was instructed to invite the Ministry of Environment and Government House clinic to inspect the poultry.
“Both the Ministry and Government House medical personnel came out with a verdict that the place was not being well kept and constituted a health hazard to people working in the Government House.
“Based on this report, the Permanent Secretary has, on a number of occasions, taken Government House staff to clean up the poultry.
“However, when the problem persisted, it was brought to the notice of the governor who then directed relevant government officers to communicate the health concerns to the the deputy governor with a view to having him maintain the place properly or relocate the birds.”
“The deputy governor did not comply with any of these directives after several correspondences, even as the stench from the poultry continued to assault people working in Government House.
“Government then directed the commissioners in charge of the Enugu Capital Territory and the Ministry of Environment to evacuate the birds to a safe place and clean up the place.
“It is regrettable that the deputy governor chose to ignore all entreaties, including government’s directive to relocate the birds, especially one that had to do with the health of the people.
“Government’s directive was carried out by officials of both ministries without incident. The birds were evacuated to a safe place and would be handed over to the deputy governor whenever and wherever he chooses.
“ It is important to also state that the deputy governor does not currently live in the premises as it is being renovated by the government.”
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