Some residents of Adkan Estate in Gwarinpa, Abuja, were stranded on Tuesday as Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) commenced sealing off houses in the estate.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that a court had ordered 52 houses in the Estate to be sealed off for failure to appear before it to answer charges for environmental offences.
The agency took the residents to court for refusal to provide waste bins contrary to the law.
Some of the affected residents appealed to the officials of AEPB to allow them have access to their houses.
NAN also reports that some policemen accompanied the officials of AEPB to carry out the operation during which 22 houses were sealed.
Mrs Lola Balogun, the AEPB prosecutor, who led the team, warned the residents against entering their houses without the permission of the court.
According to her, any illegal access into the houses would amount to contempt of court and arrest of the occupants.
“We are sealing up these houses because the owners refused to appear before the court to defend themselves against charges on environmental offences. Balogun said the operation would continue on Wednesday.
The magistrate, Mr Jubril Kutigi, who issued the order, told NAN by telephone that the enforcement of the order was critical to serve as deterrent to others. He said the court invited the owners of the houses to defend themselves in the spirit of fair hearing but they refused to honour the summons.
“The court had no option than to issue the seal up order on the houses.
“I still insist that all the houses should be sealed up because their actions had shown disrespect to the court of the land. “I want to assure you that my orders must be enforced so that the public would not look down upon my court,’’ He said.
Similarly, Mr Uche Agbanusi, Deputy Director Information, AEPB said the affected residents constituted nuisance to a constituted authority.
Agbanusi said their refusal to appear before the court to answer charges for their offences showed that they regarded themselves as being above the law.
“I stand my ground that the court orders bordering on environmental nuisance must be enforced to the letter.
“If we fail to enforce these laws, people will not take us serious and I assure you that AEPB will not spare anybody, who violates the environmental laws.