Owners of over 40 residential buildings have alleged that the Central Naval Command (CNC) of the Nigerian Navy is collaborating with the Bayelsa State Physical Planning and Development Board to forcefully evict them and demolish their houses situated behind the Navy's headquarters at Agudama-Epie in Yenagoa, the state capital.
But the Navy has denied the allegation, claiming that it was the state government through the Physical Planning and Development Board that served the landlords the quit/demolition notice.
A coalition of the aggrieved landlords of the affected buildings told TNN that they had lived in the area since 2007 when they bought the said lands from Josephus Abila's family at Okoria Bush behind the headquarters of the central naval command, otherwise called Camp Porbeni.
Speaking on behalf of the landlords, a native of Ndoro community in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state, Mr. Julius Belemu said the issue came up when men of the Nigerian Navy came to them sometime ago and allegedly demolished a two bedroom flat belonging to one of the landlords, claiming that the land belonged to them.
Belemu wondered why the Navy that came to occupy Camp Porbeni in 2014 could claim lands that were bought years ago and buildings erected before their arrival.
He described the action of the Nigerian Navy as an act of intimidation and called on the state governor, national and state assembly members, as well as the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) to come to their aid.
Belemu recalled that several letters were written to the Navy and series of meetings held regarding the issue where promises were made by the CNC to duly compensate them before leaving their places of abode to other places.
He expressed shock that the Navy reneged on their promise and went ahead to allegedly connive with the state physical planning and development board to serve them two weeks quit notice with a vow to demolish their buildings if they refuse to vacate the area within the stipulated time.
Belemu said "we have held several meetings with the navy concerning this matter and they said we should not be worried that they were going to pay us compensations so that we can go and buy land and build elsewhere".
"Rather than keeping to their promise, the Navy went and connived with the state government through the physical planning and development board to serve us a 14-day quit notice after when they would come and forcefully evict us and demolish our houses.
"As we speak, the Navy has come to construct a parameter fencing round us. Where do they want us and our families to pack to in two weeks time without compensation as earlier promised? Since they say they love this place so much, let them come and do the needful.
"Let them come and compensate us so that we can go to buy land wherever we like and build. That is all we can take from them. Anything short of that will not be accepted. If they are ready to kill all of us, we are ready to die for our hard earned property. We are going nowhere", he concluded.
Denying the allegations, the Public Relations Officer of the CNC, Lt. Commander Mohammed said the physical planning and development board, not the navy, issued the quit notice following a court order.
The PRO in a telephone conversation with TNN said "the state physical planning and development board is not an agency of Navy. It is between them and the state physical planning and development board, not Navy.
"Why Navy has that land now is because Navy went to court on two occasions. So, there is a court decision on that land and the appropriate authority to give them quit notice and take proper action on that land is the Bayelsa state physical planning and development board.
"It is a straight forward thing. It is not something that was done hap- hazard. We were in court and there is a court process and all the necessary court procedures were followed.
"As a people, they (owners of the buildings) are aware of that judgement and they should tell you the truth that the land belongs to the Navy. The Navy is a very disciplined body that cannot just come and pack people out and start demolishing their houses".