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13.05.2005 General News

Ex-Ghanaian Teacher in Nigeria cries for compensation

By GNA

Accra, May 13, GNA - A Ghanaian, who taught in Nigeria for well over 18 years is now wallowing in abject poverty following the destruction in 2001 of his bakery, the only source of livelihood for him and his family, which was located in the vicinity of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

He has, therefore, reiterated his appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ghana High Commission in Nigeria to intervene in the matter to enable him to claim adequate compensation to begin a new life. Mr Simon Mfordjo, who taught at the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Staff Primary School, Abuja, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Wednesday that after retiring from the teaching profession in 1999, he decided to go into a bakery business while awaiting his pension and other entitlements.

He said his DAT-DAY BUTTER Bakery, which was located near the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at Abuja, was destroyed without prior notification and its various components, comprising three big machines were stolen while he was visiting Ghana.

Mr Mfordjo showed to the GNA documents and correspondences to attest to the fact that he was officially allocated a plot at the outskirts of FAAN Staff Quarters Area B for the construction of the bakery. He said he believed that he was unfairly treated because the Nigerian authorities considered him to be a Ghanaian, who did not deserve to make some money or earn a decent living.

Mr Mfordjo said, following the incident, he wrote several letters to the Nigerian Minister of Aviation and the Federal Airports Authority, Abuja, asking for compensation because he invested everything he had in the bakery business.

He said after persistent pressure on the airport authorities for the justification of their action and compensation for the facility, they threatened that if he did not leave the airport area, he and his family would disappear.

He, therefore, called on both the Ghana High Commission in Abuja and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate the matter and assist him to claim compensation for the bakery.

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took up the matter and asked Ghana's High Commission in Abuja to investigate the case, and, if possible assist him to recover his losses.

He said that though the Ghana High Commission in Abuja assisted him to get his pension and other entitlements, it had not done enough to assist him to claim compensation for the destroyed bakery, estimated to cost about two million Naira.

Following the intervention of the Ghana High Commission in Abuja, Mr Mfordjo said the "FAAN authorities admitted that the receipts attached to Mr Mfordjo's documents were that of the Federal Airports Authority and that they would investigate the matter further and keep the Mission posted.

The Ghana Mission also noted that the Federal Capital Territory authorities had been demolishing illegal structures in the Metropolis in its efforts to enforce the Abuja Master-plan but Mr Mfordjo claimed that his facility was not within the area specified and that those who were affected were given ample time to quit the area.

Mr Mfordjo, who looked very disturbed, said three other people or businesses were given ample notice to vacate their premises but he in particular received no notice at all.

When the GNA contacted an official of the Ghana High Commission in Abuja, Mr Sam Afrifa Kyei, for clarification, he promised to respond to the request but has since not acted even after several reminders by electronic mail.

Mr Mfordjo, however, still maintains that he has been unfairly treated by the FAAN and has, therefore, renewed his appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take up the matter with a view to getting adequate compensation for his destroyed bakery facility. When the Ghana News Agency contacted, Ms Jayne Gasu, Assistant Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she confirmed that the Ministry was aware of the issues raised by Mr Mfordjo but declined to comment further.

Mr Lawal Bappah, Minister Counsellor at the Nigeria High Commission in Ghana, told the GNA that the Nigerian government bought lands from the inhabitants and paid compensation on them to undertake various projects.

He said it was only the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, who had the right to allocate land to people, who wanted to put up structures on the land.

Mr Bappah explained, however, that since not all the land was being used, people were allowed to put up temporary structures for various activities.

However, such persons were usually given adequate notice to quit to make way for projects, adding that those who refused to quit after the deadlines had their structures demolished.

Mr Bappah said the Federal Capital Ministry, in its efforts to implement the Abuja Master-plan, was compelled to enforce the building regulations incorporated in the plan and that those who failed to comply with it had their structures demolished.

The Counsellor affirmed that even some Nigerians, including top retired generals and public servants, had lost property because they had failed to follow the rules.

When his attention was drawn to the fact that Mr Mfordjo was not given any notice at all to quit the area, Mr Bappah said that was unfortunate.

He, therefore, recommended that the Consular Office of the Ghana High Commission in Nigeria should take up the matter with the Ministry of Federal Airports Authority for redress. "Let him go back to Nigeria and take up the case with the Ghana High Commission. If he qualifies for compensation, they would do it for him," he stated. 13 May 05

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