The Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, Thursday, warned persons encroaching on government land and property to desist or be treated as criminals.
A statement signed by Dickson’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the governor gave the warning when the State Special Task Force on Identification and Recovery of Government Lands, led by Chief Ige Iboro Edaba submitted its report to him.
Dickson particularly called on persons still assuming ownership of land after collecting compensation to steer clear from the property.
He asked them to approach the Ministry of Land and Survey to report unresolved issues.
He said: “I want to call on land owners to desist from re-entering lands in respect of which, compensation has been paid. If compensation has not been fully paid and the government has already started developing the land, then respect the rights of the government, because that is the property of everybody, including you.
“You can approach the Ministry of Lands and Survey and then discuss with them, as to how they can complete the acquisition.
“But, the solution is not to collect compensation money from government and then go back and sell government lands. We will treat those people as pure criminals that they are and we will begin the process of recovering all such lands.”
Dickson, who promised to study the report, directed the ministries of Justice and lands and Survey to take measures in recovering all affected government land.
Presenting the report of the task force, Edaba decried the level of encroachment on government land saying some land owners, who received compensation re-entered and in most cases re-sold such land.
He cited some of the affected areas in the Yenagoa metropolis as, BYCAS at Elebele, Central Business District and Opolo Housing Estate, where government had acquired 200 hectares of land for which 70% had been re-sold.
Edaba also stressed the need for all ministries, departments and agencies to acquire land, through the Ministry of Lands and Survey to promoting a centralized land acquisition system and expedite action on recovery of encroached lands.