Awka-Anambra State House of Assembly has called on state Government to issue an Executive Order, prohibiting unauthorised excavation of laterite, stones and local sharp sands at the defunct Oba Airport site.
The House also calls for prosecution of defaulters.
This followed a motion sponsored by Mr Lawrence Ezeudu representing Dunukofia during plenary on June 2.
The Speaker, Mr Uche Okafor said it was their duty to protect life and property of the people and to stop unlawful excavations in the state.
“I will set up a committee to monitor unlawful excavation in the state that will locate all areas of indiscriminate mining and indiscriminate deforestation.
“They will also monitor illegal construction of drainages and water ways, citing of filling stations in residential areas,’’ Mr Okafor said.
The Speaker instituted a committee to be headed by Mr Ezeudu including Mr Edward Ibuzo, Mr Obinna Emeneka, Mr Douglas Egbuna, Mr Emma Nwafor and Mr Chuka Ezenwunne.
Speaker, Mr Okafor, who presided over plenary read out the resolution while the lawmakers unanimously adopted it through voice votes.
Earlier, Mr Ezeudu said pivotal efforts had been made by Ministry of Environment as well as other related authorities and stake holders to check the unlawful excavation which proved abortive.
“The large expanse of land estimated to be about 530 hectares situated and known as the defunct Oba Airport site was statutorily acquired by old Anambra State Government.
“The, then, military administrator, Air Commodore Emeka Sampson Omeruah had acquired the land for the purpose of constructing an airport in accordance with the Land Use Decree of 1978.
“This was canceled by the immediate past administration of Mr Peter Obi on grounds of poor topography of the area.
“Sequel to the cancelation, the area has become a centre for land grabbers, trespassers, unauthorised private developers, illegal miners with unlawful excavation of laterite, stones and local sharp sands.
“I am worried about the environmental hazards, caused by the unlawful excavation which is obviously carried out with due diligence or embarking on proper environmental impact assessment.
“The gully erosion presently threatening the existence of several adjoining houses, factories, farmlands together with undeveloped lands within the said area is as a result of unauthorised excavation, is a problem too.
“The Governor of Anambra State is dully empowered constitutionally to issue an Executive Order to ensure the protection and improvement of the environment,’’ Mr Ezeudu said.
Speaking in favour of the motion, Mr Timothy Ifedioramma (Njikoka 1) said it was a display of impunity, arrogance, total disobedience and disregard for constituted authority.
He noted that some parts of the land had been sold and that people were building at the end of the gully, which posed a big environmental problem to residents.
“At this point what is best is for the Governor to come with Constitutional Power Enactment and make an executive pronouncement, which will put a stop to this menace,’’ Mr Ifedioranma said.
Member representing Anambra East, Mr Obinna Emeneka expressed his disappointment saying: “it is unheard of that an individual or group of persons will go into a land and take laws into their hands’’.
However, he advised that the Commissioner for Environment be called in to determine what steps and actions his Ministry had taken so far in tackling the issue or summon the defaulters.
“It’s a challenge to democracy, to legislation, to the Executive and Government; if we need to bring the person or persons perpetuating these inhuman crimes to book,’’ Mr Emenaka said.
Mr Chuka Ezenwunne (Idemili South) while supporting the motion cited section 20 of 1999 Constitution, “the state shall protect and improve the environment and safeguard the water, air and land, forest and wildlife of Nigeria’’.
He noted that people of Oba donated the parcel of land to Government since 1957 for the proposed Oba Airport and they didn’t take the laws into their hands by taking it back.
“What they got in return is destruction of their environment because the excavators are systematically building disaster in Oba and Idemili as a whole.
“One man is spear-heading this operation in the person of Mr Osita Adina; he moves around with a large group of boys and almost two hundred trips of laterite are carted away daily,’’ Mr Ezenwanne hinted.
Mr Edward Ibuzo (Onitsha North 2) said: “we have about 400 erosion sites in Anambra, Nnewi alone has 46 sites; Awka has 26 in addition to those in other communities.
“Onitsha erosion has swallowed some houses and many of them are man-made erosion. There is need to find a solution to this problem urgently.
“I pray you, Mr Speaker to set up a task force committee that will move round to oversee all mining pits, give recommendations for optimal performance and results for the betterment of Ndi Anambra,’’ Mr Ibuzo said.
Mr Emmanuel Nwafor representing Orumba South said: “the illegal mining has gone more than 60 meters deep into the soil, after the sharp sand is water and they are already mining the sharp sand.
“When this lake will develop, the whole buildings in the area will be submerged. This is an impending doom; there is need to take action immediately.’’
Source: Anambra State Government