Joseph Egbri, aka Kpokpogri a politician and former lover of actress, Tonto Dikeh, talks about the issues surrounding the recent demolition of his house in Abuja
How did you feel watching a house you had laboured to build being demolished?
I cannot kill myself. I have my kids to live for. There are also many youths who depend on me to survive. I believe there are some people behind what happened and God is going to expose them all. They will suffer 10 times what I did on that day, because that thing (demolition) is not ordinary.
The Federal Housing Authority and Federal Capital Territory Administration claimed to have given you several notices before the building was eventually demolished. Is that true?
They are liars from the pit of hell. They had the audacity to come into somebody’s property, without prior notice, and demolished it because they are in power. Very soon, they will leave power, and the same treatment they meted out to other would be accorded them.
You claimed that the building was demolished because you refused to sell it to a powerful individual. Can you tell us more about that and the identity of the individual in question?
No, I will not reveal their identity because it is going to spoil my case. However, I have some recordings to that effect. It was after I built the house that the place became habitable, and activities began to pick up in the area. I daresay it was that building that attracted development in that area. The place was practically a bush for many years. Even the original allottee got that allocation in 2015. If they knew there was to be a road there, why did they not revoke it (the allocation). When I was building (my house), the FHA usually came to supervise the building from the beginning to the end. Even when I was putting up a fence, they came.
But now, they just came from nowhere with a vicious excuse which I consider to be an afterthought that a road is supposed to pass through my house. There are empty lands there (in the area) that people have not built, why doesn’t the road go through those on occupied lands. (Am I being treated this way) because I am not a northerner? This same thing has been done to many of our southern and eastern brothers. There is a man who built a very massive estate of over 100 units here in Abuja. But, because he is from Anambra State, when the man was building, nobody went there to put up any notice (for him to stop work). But, as soon as he finished building, they went to mark the place for demolition. What kind of oppression is that? Something needs to be done about that.
Can you take us through the process of paying for the land and documentation up until the point where the house was eventually completed?
It was a lawyer in the FHA, one Mr Uche, that sold the property to me. Being a civil servant, he should have known that a road would pass through the property he was selling, so why did he involve himself in that kind of transaction. After buying the two plots, I took my building design to them. When they saw the design, they condemned it. They said they were the ones that would draw the design for me, that they could not allow me to go ahead with it. I said if that was the case, so be it. They then did the design, signed it, brought it back to me, and gave me a copy after I had paid for my building development. I paid all the fees I was required to pay to the government, including the building approval. If the building approval was not properly paid, they would not have allowed me to start any work on the property.
I am sure something like this would not have happened to a northerner in a place like Asaba or Warri (Delta State). Even the minister that ordered the demolition of the house does not have the fear of God. Does he have that kind of house? Even when his personal assistant, Sani Daura, came to my house, the first thing he said was, “Oga, this your house is beautiful. Even my boss does not have this kind of house”.
Some people are of the opinion that your ex-lover, Tonto Dikeh, was somehow involved in the whole saga. What’s your reaction to that?
Those are lies. Tonto has nothing to do with it. She knows nothing about what happened there.
Some people have said the demolition is a case of karma. What’s your response to that?
What is karma? The demolition is a blessing in disguise; I don’t believe in karma. Do I sound like somebody that karma affected? Despite how powerful King Saul was in the Bible, he was unable to match David. No matter how they gather, the Bible says if the gathering is not of God, they will scatter. I don’t care what she is saying. I don’t even want to say anything about that girl. I don’t want to be involved in anything concerning her.
(The demolition was instigated by) a group of people that came together for that purpose. What they did does not even reflect the interest of the Federal Government. I will unravel them (as time goes on).
The FCDA claimed that the demolished building was obstructing a road alignment which was designed to serve as an important bypass to the Abuja-Keffi axis. Were you aware of this?
Those are lies. Go and check the Abuja masterplan, if there is any road like that passing through that place. Go and check the FHA master plan. I went to the FHA three times and they asked me to go, that my house would not be affected.
It was also stated that your building was unapproved?
Those are also lies. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that a road was even coming, they don’t have the right to enter my property without reaching out to me as the owner, because it was a government agency that allocated the place to me. I should have been informed if they wanted to revoke the land. They ought to take me somewhere else and compensate me before they can demolish my property to make room for the said road.
What sort of relief or compensation do you want from the government?
I won’t say anything about that. I have my plans.