Enugu families raises the alarm over alleged unlawful acquisition of their ancestral land

*They are mischief makers, says traditional ruler

From Maurice Okafor, Enugu

Feud is seriously brewing between the Enugu State Government, Umuanekeode and Obangene families in Ibagwa Nike, Enugu-East Local Government Area.

The impending feud may lead to a breach of the peace as a result of a parcel of land which the community alleged government officials used “intimidation, humiliation as well as disobedience to court orders to disposses them of”.

The crisis led to the blocking of the Enugu-Ugwuogo Nike-Nsukka Expressway last week by about 500 able-bodied youths of the community, protesting alleged unlawful government entry into their family land.

Chairman of Umuanekeode family, Mr. Ngwu Ikechukwu and the Chairman of Obangene familu, speaking during the protest, decried the illegal manner government agents trespassed into their land with a view to dispossessing them of the said land.

To authenticate their claims, they submitted copies of documents of their correspondences with government agents to prove their rejection of unlawful entry into the said land.

The protesters said that the land had been subject of court litigations and produced a court injunction served on the state government, as defendants in 2011.

The families alleged that a prominent citizen in the area was was alleged to have procured a fake Power of Attorney purporting to be from the community, adding that the police investigations on the matter led to government agents being asked to keep off the land but they did yield.

In one of such letters written in 2007 from the then Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Dr. Fabian Uzor titled: “Release of Parcel ‘A’ of Land at Ibagwa Nike” to the families the state government stated that “after considering the ministry’s presentation, has decided on immediate release of Parcel ‘A’ measuring 99 hectares of land to the family owners of Ibagwa-Nike”.

The spokesman of the communities alleged that government had used the present lockdown because of the Corona-Virus pandemic to trespass to the land believing that the courts were not working.

But speaking to journalists recently, the traditional ruler of Ibagwa Nike, Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu, said there was not crisis in his community other than some “misguided individuals” who are unhappy that government wants to reclaim the parcel of land acquired earlier for development purposes.

“Some people want to cause problem between the government and the community. Those that sold government land are the ones causing trouble in the community,” Ugwu said.

Meanwhile a human rights organisation, known as Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) appealed to the state government to intervene to salvage the situation.

The National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the two families who claim ownership of the land are accusing the state commissioner of Lands, Mr Vitus Okechi, of using government to muscle trespass into their land with the connivance of some indigenes of the communities.

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