Mt. John Actsu is an Assistant Commissioner of Police retired who hails from Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State. In this exclusive Interview with AUSTINE TULE, he spoke on a number of issues regarding a prolonged land dispute in his community. He equally identifies some causes surrounding the rise in crime wave and other matters. Excerpts.
Sir, may We Have Your Comment On The State Of Insecurity In The Country?
Let me state that some of the crises escalate because those who are saddle with the responsibility of han¬dling same are in most cases not sincere especially as regards to telling the truth as to why they start¬ed in the first instance . As I speak with you, I’m having a similar situation in my place and this is because those in authority at that level are been economical with the truth about the origin of such crises and so as a trained security per¬son, I think that has been one of the major reasons why we have not been able to find solutions to some of the security challenges we are facing in the country.
There Has Been a Pro¬longed Land Dispute in Shange-Tiev Between The People of Mbamar and Ugambe and You Happen To Also Be A Victim. May We Know The Origin of This Dispute?
I am from the fam¬ily of Anikyehe which is in Mbamar district of Shangev-Tiev, about fifty six years ago I was given birth to on that land. By 1981 somebody from this district (Mbamar) walk up and said we were not the real owners of the land upon which we inherited from our forefathers, as at 1981, I was already an adult and we had at the time lived there from time immemorial. They took us to Court on the grounds that we were settlers but we won the case after some¬time, they took us to same Court that had previously delivered judgment in our favour, unfortunately the same court gave them judgment and we said no, a Court cannot give differ¬ent judgments on the same matter it had previously decided on given that the grounds of the matter were the same. We appealed against that judgment at the High Court and the High Court gave us judg¬ment and affirmed us as the real owners of the land but, it remain unfortunate that after obtaining three other judgments in our favour without any been upturned by any competent Court of jurisdiction, these peo¬ple have continued to lay claims to the ownership of the land which has neces¬sitated the prolonged crises you asked about.
You Made Mention of You Been Through Tre¬mendous Trauma Owing To These Crises, Can You Share A Little With Us?
As I speak with you I cannot even bury my re¬lations on that land, my grandmother died and was buried there and this peopled went and exhumed the corps. we went to Court and some of them were convicted and even sent to jail. Afterwards, they came out and continued with the same thing. They did the same thing this year when one of my relations died in February and was buried, these same people went and exhumed his body shortly after he was interred and as we speak, I have not been able to give him a reburial. We went to Court again and got judg¬ment which ordered that he be reburied on our an¬cestral land . The most un¬fortunate thing about the recent development lies in the fact that the Chair¬man of Konshisha Local Government, Mrs. Mwuese Ubebe was quoted to have said it was the governor of Benue state Dr. Samuel Or¬tom that directed that the corps be exhumed. To me that doesn’t sound like the truth because, the governor knows what due process is all about and would not have given such a directive.
Now That The Court Has Given You The Right To Re Bury Your Relation. What Is The Next Step you are taking?
Well , the Court asked that the corpse should be reburied but the issues here again is that, we are not the ones that exhumed the body and so how can we go to the mortuary and lay claims to it , secondly, I de¬manded for damages to the tune of fifty million Naira and what the Court grant¬ed was only five hundred thousand after I have spent millions pursuing this case and so to me that is not very pleasant. How will people come and look for your trouble and having put you through so much phycologists trauma then the Court will still be that lenient with them and still allow you to carry the bur¬den of reburial and other expenses on your head. I have gone through untold hardship over these issue, as we speak, no single eco¬nomic tree is standing on that vast land, including houses and farms, human lives have been lost in the process and that is how bad the situation has been over the years.
What Do You Want The Governor To Do In This Matter At This Point?
Well, we are a very peaceful people and so, I will beg Governor Samuel Ortom to intervene with a view to seen that the crises are resolved by urg¬ing those causing trouble to obey the decision of the various Courts that have given judgment on this matter because some people are using his name to aggravate the situation and such people are also misrepresenting the facts about the this prolonged land dispute. I believed the governor has the ca¬pacity too end this crises, if governor Ortom can han¬dle issues of security that are more delicate such as those of Fulani herdsmen and RUGA then, am quite optimistic that he has all it takes to return my people to their ancestral land. Let him invite all concerned so that he will be able to get to the fact of the matter. I’m not very sure that the gov-ernor is even aware that over four judgments have been given in my favour on this issue so my appeal is that he should give all parties to the matter a lis¬tening ear so that he would be able to know who is tell¬ing him the truth about the matter.