Shop owners and traders in the Annex campus of the University of Uyo have decried selective demolition of some shops in the area by the management of the institution.
The affected shop owners have also lamented that the team not only destroyed the containers they received approval to erect, but also destroyed their computers, photocopiers and printers as they were not allowed time to evacuate the shops.
The demolition team of the institution was led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nyaudo Ndaeyo, who had on March, 11, 2021 stormed the area and allegedly pulled down some container shops, leaving out others
Sources said the management of the school had posted a two-day notice on the fence directing owners of ‘illegal structures’ to vacate their shops or face the consequences.
Speaking with newsmen in Uyo on Tuesday, Mrs Treasure Okon, one of the affected computer shop owners who expressed shock that her shop, which was duly allocated to her by management of the University, even as she was still paying yearly rent to the institution, could also be declared illegal.
Mrs Okon explained that life has become unbearable for her and her children as her computers, Printers and photocopiers were destroyed during the demolition.
She expressed surprise that many other shops in the same vicinity with extensions as alleged by the University authorities as reason for the demolition still have their containers and shops intact.
“Officials of the University including the Vice Chancellor came with a bulldozer and demolished everything. I was even working when they came, they switched off my generator, they brought a caterpillar and destroyed everything,
“It was not only my place, it was up to 15 places, they said the place is illegal and before I knew what was happening, the Chief Security Officer directed the bulldozer to destroy the shop.
“So the next day I went to the CSO, he said my place was illegal and I showed him all the receipts. He said I should go and meet the VC that he was the one that gave the directive, since then I have been looking for somebody to help me because they destroyed everything in the shop, they didn’t even allow me to remove anything from the shop.” She said amidst tears.
She further added that the authorities later apologized to her and other victims for the demolition.
But the Registrar Aniediabasi Udofia had in a letter to Okon’s lawyer said she acted against the directive of the University for owners of illegal structures in the University premises to remove them.
“It is correct that your client Mrs Treasure Okon applied to the Registrar for space in the Annex Campus to build a container for a business shop. She was correspondingly issued with a business Venture Payment Permit by the Directorate of General Administration to operate her business in the Annex Campus.
“From the representation in your client’s application, she wanted a space to build a container for her business. She therefore had permission, though impliedly to erect a container and nothing more, to do her business. Your client by erecting something else other than a container had rendered that structure illegal. She was so informed.
“In any case, the University had issued adequate and sufficient notices to business owners/operations in the University, your client inclusive to remove all illegal structures on the University land. Your client had enough time to have acted wisely, but she blatantly disregarded the notices.” The letter had explained.
The Registrar, who was later contacted through phone noted that the only people affected were those who did not get direct approval from office of the Registrar before erecting shops.
He hinted that design for a permanent structure has already been done, adding that the University would reallocate shops first to those who were legally and genuinely assigned shops earlier, but were affected.