Fresh facts have emerged on why Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) ordered the unsealing of the Lagos house of a former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
Pointblanknews.com investigations revealed that a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, and a key northern publisher played a key role in getting Fashola soft-pedal on the matter.
Lagos State government had penultimate week sealed Kalu’s property in Park View Estate, Ikoyi, claiming the former governor failed to pay the annual ground rent on the house, despite three separate notices.
Kalu had however fired back. He linked the action of the Lagos State Government to his criticism over last month’s deportation of 72 Igbos by the Fashola administration.
Sources close to the Lagos State government told Pointblanknews.com that, but for the intervention of the duo of the publisher and the former minister, the said property would have remained under lock and key.
Said the source, “I can authoritatively tell you that the publisher personally visited my governor on the matter. He came to plead that Kalu be given 14 days’ grace to pay up, so that the matter does not degenerate.”
“When my governor probed, it was discovered that the mission had actually been organised by FFK (Fani-Kayode), a close friend of Orji Kalu, the same man they claim is an Igbo hater. That, I can tell you, was what saved the situation,” he added.
Kalu had dubbed the sealing of his home unconstitutional, and questioned the action which he said came two weeks after he faulted Fashola’s deportation of 72 Igbos to Onitsha Bridgehead.
However, the Lagos State Government had defended the action thus:
“The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to a misleading claim by a businessman, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu that his Ikoyi home has been sealed off following a threat to sue the Lagos State Government over an unrelated matter.
“We wish to state, for the avoidance of doubt, that nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu’s property in Park View Estate, Ikoyi was distrained pursuant to Section 40 of the Revenue Administration Law of Lagos State for failure to pay the statutory annual land use charge despite three separate notices delivered to the said property.
“As a government driven by law and process, the Lagos State Government will ordinarily expect all law abiding residents to discharge their responsibilities to the state.
If, in spite of failing to do so, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu wants to give ethnic colouration to a routine performance of its duties by an agency of the state government, which in this case is the Land Use Charge Office, under the Ministry of Finance, he is welcome to do so.
However it should be noted that when the issue was brought to the attention of the Governor, Tuesday evening, he directed the agency to unseal the property and that an additional 14 days grace period be given to Mr. Kalu to pay the said charge.
“It should be emphasised that notices like these are served on defaulting property owners on a regular basis who either comply or contact the Agency to raise any objections they might have to such notice. Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu, like every other citizen, must fulfil his obligation to the State.”
The statement was signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon. Aderemi Ibirogba.