The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Owerri Branch has called on the Imo State Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Physical Planning, Barr. Enyinna Onuegbu, to look into some unwholesome and stifling practices in the Ministry which not only portrays the state in bad light, but also are frustrating citizens and lawyers who come to the ministry on the instructions of their clients.
Presenting an address during a Courtesy visit to the Commissioner in his office at the state Secretariat, the Chairman of NBA Owerri Branch, Nze J.I. Ogamba said Onuegbu’s appointment is as apt as putting a round peg in a round hole, stressing that the NBA and Imo people are confident that given the Commissioner’s pedigree, his rich experience and training as a lawyer, the Commissioner will introduce best practices that will bring a stop to innumerable unwholesomeness policies and practices that have bedeviled the ministry.
The NBA boss mentioned some of these practices to include; the high cost of conducting Search in the ministry and the recent increment of Search on Native land from N20,000.00 to N70,000.00.
Others include, undue delay in preparation of Search Reports, undue delay in the registration of title documents, high cost of registration/perfection of title documents, preparation of Power of Attorney by Staff of Ministry of Lands, Difficulties in the payment of assessed fees in banks, reluctance of staff of the Ministry to move files unless bribed, delay in processing of certificate of occupancy, the exorbitant cost of charting and inspection of lands, unjustified revocation of land by the chief Executive, illegal acquisition of lands, duplication of title, dual allocation of public lands, high cost of certification of land documents and exorbitant cost of issuance of caveat.
Ogamba commended the Commissioner for taking positive steps towards solving the myriads of problems urging him however to consider the digitalization/computerization of land record system as can be seen is states like Abia and Anambra, reduction of the exorbitant fees in perfection/registration of title documents, mortgages, etc, which reduces the propensity of doing business and hampers commercial activities as registration of title documents which can be used in obtaining loans is reduced and discouraged, checkmating of touting by the Ministry Staff and Proper monitoring of staff, rejection of powers of attorney not properly executed by lawyers, abolition of the use of Power of Attorney in transfering interest in land which retains the Principal/Agent relationship with its concomitant disadvantages and introduction of Deed of Conveyance in its place which completely empties the interest of a seller and obtaining of Fiat from the Governor for signing of certificates of occupancy, mortgages, etc.
While pledging the readiness of the Bar to work with the Commissioner in restoring the confidence of the public, Ogamba informed the Commissioner that the NBA have set up a Land and Lands Committee which will liaise with the ministry in the implementation of noble ideas that will engender seamless and smooth public land administration.
He solicited the support of the Commissioner in actualizing the Lawyers Housing Scheme which according to him is one of the main projects of his administration saying the NBA have no doubt in their minds that the Commissioner will engineer the change which the ministry long desired and assured of their support.
Responding, Barr. Onuegbu informed the NBA that the Ministry has adopted far reaching measures and policies to re-engineer the affairs of the ministry and restore the confidence of Imo people on the way of doing business.
He described NBA as a major stakeholder in the state and challenged them to checkmate the excesses of the executive. Onuegbu disclosed that Governor Hope Uzodinma is desperate to change the way things are done in the state with his humility and exemplary leadership stressing however that the challenges on ground are too numerous which requires all hands on deck to tackle them.
He thanked his colleagues for finding time to visit him and pledged not to disappoint them.
In a vote of thanks, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Lands, Survey and Physical Planning, Sir. John Uzoma thanked the NBA for honouring the Commissioner who he described as the most vibrant and hardworking Commissioner informing them that the ministry has taken measures to tackle corruption in the Ministry.
Those present at the occasion includes the Permanent Secretary, Sir. John Uzoma, the Director of Information, Sir. Vincent Ihejieto, Chief of Staff to Commissioner, Nze Elvis Okechukwu and Executive of NBA Owerri Branch.