The National Human Rights Commission, on Monday, ordered the release of six persons from prison custody in Enugu State pending further hearing of their case on August 26.
The commission, holding its pre-sitting on public enquiry into cases of demolitions and forceful evictions in the South East and South-South zones, made the order following a protest by some 20 owners of properties in Ngenevu and Bunker in Enugu North Local Government Area of the state.
The placard-carrying protesters claimed that their buildings were demolished without notice by one Eric Chime, popularly known as Rico Container, who claimed to have acquired the land from the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
The protesters, who are mainly retirees, widows, orphans and low-income earners, told the commission that they had been living in squalor since January when their buildings were demolished.
The spokesperson of the group, Mrs Elizabeth Eke, said that their houses were demolished on January 16 and January 22 allegedly on the orders of Chime.
Eke said that Chime employed the services of a bulldozer to demolish their houses without notice, adding that some people did not bring out a pin from their houses as they were not around when the demolition took place.
She said that since then, Chime had allegedly been terrorising the people living in an uncompleted building because he claimed to have bought the land from the Federal Government through the bureau as the land originally belonged to the Nigerian Coal Corporation.
She alleged that Chime caused the arrest of six of them and took them to the police headquarters from where they were sent to the prison.
Counsel to Chime told the commission that he had not been duly served and urged the panel to give him 30 days to enable him to get prepared for the case.
Mr Tony Ojikwe, who presided over the matter, ordered the immediate release of those in prison custody.