For the embattled former revenue collector for Edo State government, Tony Adun, popularly called Tony Kabaka whose multi-million naira hotel was demolished recently by the Godwin Obaseki-led All Progressives Congress, APC, government, it not only rains, it pours. He has not only lost his huge investment for allegedly building on government land, he is also about to lose N18 million being demanded by the government as logistics cost of bringing the property down and clearing the debris. Adun however said he was waiting to see how the government would enforce the demand.
The T. Latifah Hotel and Suites located on Akin Oladiyun Street, Off Ugbor Road, Benin City, was demolished by the state government February 5, 2020. The demolition was preceded by a seven-day notice issued October 2019 through the ministry of physical planning and urban development, to Adun, to remove the hotel on the ground that it was built on a piece of land belonging to a public primary school.
The government said the N18 million being demanded was in line with Section 63 of the Nigerian Urban and Region Planning act 88 of 1992 and directed Adun to pay the amount into the government’s IGR account # 000663034 with the Access Bank PLC. Not a few Edo residents believe the demolition was an act of political vendetta because Adun was one of the APC party faithful opposed to the governor’s second term bid. Obaseki however insisted that the decision had no political undertone since he had warned in the past that his administration would not tolerate lawlessness.
Amidst public outcry ahead of the demolition, he asserted that no amount of blackmail would stop the state government from demolishing the hotel because it was built on government’s land. According to him, “Businesses cannot thrive when there is anarchy and complete disrespect for the law. For us as a government whatever we need to do to ensure that there is law and order will be done. If you have done the wrong thing and taken over property not yours, to build on government property is the wrong thing to do. If you go and build on the road, that is not the right thing to do. If government tolerates that, then more people will become lawless”. The governor vowed that “Anybody who contravenes the law, no matter how highly placed you are in Edo State, you will be dealt with”.
Adun would however not buy the governor’s argument as he maintained that his hotel was demolished because he was against Obaseki’s second term bid. Explaining that a court had fixed a date for judgment on the suit he filed against the previous attempts by the state government to demolish his hotel, Adun posited that “We are still in court. I have injunctions against the government. Judgment is on Friday. I have the Certificate of Occupancy of my house but I don’t have C of O of the hotel. Let him (Obaseki) go ahead and demolish it. 100 years is not forever”.
Reacting to the N18 million bill slammed on him, Adun said the land in question was never owned by the government, arguing that the demolition of the hotel when judgment had been fixed in respect of the suit he filed “greatly contravened established court processes”. He said following the demolition, he had approached the court to order the state government to rebuild his hotel that was demolished two days before the final judgment. Adun said his lawyer had asked the court to compel the state government to return his hotel to the original state it was before the first suit he filed to challenge the government, adding that unfortunately, the case was stalled by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Let’s see how the state government will enforce the payment of N18million. What will the court say when the same case is still in court and yet to be concluded?, he queried.