Palm trees, yam and cassava farms worth several thousands of naira on Akpoma, Atani, were last week allegedly destroyed on the orders of the Ogbaru Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mr. Arinzechukwu Awogu, in defiance of a subsisting court judgment.
Lamenting the willful destruction, Rev. Okechukwu Ifeachor, spokesman of the family alleged that Mr. Awogu, said to be a close associate of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, had boasted that he carried out he destructions on the permission of the governor in spite of the court judgment.
He stated that the progenitor of the Ifeachor family of Umuoniha Abilibose Village, Atani, the late Chief Oniha Udogwu, owned the entire Akpoma land and that ownership of the land has remained in the family for many generations.
Rev. Okechukwu, however, noted that part of the Akpoma land was surreptitiously encroached on by the local government some years ago without the knowledge of the eldest member of the family, Chief Nathaniel Onowu Ifeachor and his younger brother Samuel Nnabuenyi Ifeachor, then custodians of the land.
He said that part of the land is where the Ogbaru Local Government Secretariat is presently situated, adding that the local government has kept trespassing on the remaining parts of the land without any compensation paid to the Ifeachor family and no alternative land given.
Rev. Okechukwu said the Ifeachor family filed a suit against the local government on the 27th of September, 2016, and obtained judgement on 14th July, 2017.
He said that after about one year after judgment was delivered at an Onitsha High Court, Mr. Arinzechukwu Awogu challenged the decision at the Court of Appeal Enugu with appeal fixed for 24th of September, 2019, to hear the motion on notice to file appeal out of time.
Rev. Okechukwu, also a journalist, wondered why Mr. Awogu did not wait for the appellate court to hear the scheduled suit before violating the High Court judgment.
He added that in addition to the destructions of their economic trees, crops and farm land, there have been on-going threats and intimidation of members of the Ifeachor family especially when they go to the Akpoma land to farm.
Okechukwu called on Governor Obiano to relieve Mr. Awogu of his portfolio without delay, claiming he is abusing his office.
Efforts to get Mr. Awogu to speak on the matter was rebuffed as he told our reporters to do their worst, adding that “nothing will happen.”