Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole has said the state government served authorities of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) a notice, three years ago, to vacate eighteen properties belonging to the Edo State Government, but rather than vacate, they took the government to court.
The Governor said to fulfill all righteousness, the government waited for the court to deliver judgment, which it did on December 16, last year, ordering the university authorities to vacate the said properties “forthwith” ruling that the 18 properties belonged to the state government.
According to him, having waited from December 16, 2014 for the illegal tenants to vacate the properties and they refused, the government took steps granted by the court to recover the properties in the interest of the people of the state.
Fielding questions from journalists on the issue, Oshiomhole said as the Governor, he has a duty and responsibility to hold in trust and protect all assets belonging to the People of Edo State that are entrusted to the government of the State.
“As the Governor of this state, I have responsibility and duty to protect the interest and asset of Edo State and those properties are not in the names of any individual.
“They are in the names of Edo State Government and we cannot fold our hands and allow individuals to continue to occupy properties belonging to Edo State Government and paying rents to the wrong authority.
“I remain firm that if the interest of Edo State is involved, I must stand firm and execute it without fear or favor and that is exactly what we have done.”
Giving a background on how the properties got to the university authorities, he said: “As I am sure you will recall, when UNIBEN was set up, the then Military Governor, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, in his wisdom, decided as a young institution to assist some of the officers and staff with accommodation and so, some houses were made available to accommodate some of the staff of UNIBEN.
“However, they have occupied these properties without paying any rent to Edo State Government but a couple of years ago, just before I assumed office as governor, the Federal Government in line with the policy of monetization under which salaries of employees including other allowances were abolished so that rather than provide these for certain categories of public officers, they were to be paid in lieu of either official quarters or cars.
“Subsequently, the Federal Government announced the policy under which they had put on sale all apartments and quarters occupied by public officers having monetized the allowances of such officers and so, in Edo State, Federal Government and some of its agencies had published their intention to sell off the houses that were previously occupied by Public officers,” the governor said.