From Maurice Okafor, Enugu
The Commissioner for Lands in Enugu state, Chief Victor Nnam has denied allegations of usurpation of a parcel of land belonging to Obeagu Awkunanaw community in Enugu South local government area of the state. After which there has been frivolous deals between government officials and the developer at the expense of paying adequate compensation to the community.
Chief Victor Nnam denied the allegation yesterday while reacting to a peaceful protest by youths of Obeagu Awkunawnaw community in Enugu South Local Government Area over a disputed land.
Nnam said that the state government was not unmindful of the activities of some developers whom he said were blackmailing the state government while attempting to acquire land in the state.
He said the state government had sometime in 2009 allocated 1,097 hectares in the area to Private Estate West Africa (PEWA) Ltd. for the development of a modern city.
“The purpose was to decongest the population, traffic and other things happening in Enugu city as at that time,” he said.
He however, said that the state government deferred the premium to be paid by the company to help them to develop, sell the properties and then pay government.
The commissioner said that the company even after parcelling and selling portions of the land failed to pay the premium as agreed to enable government compensate the land owners.
“Government is handicapped because PEWA has failed in their own part of the bargain by not paying government premium.
“We know that the community people are not happy because their land was acquired and they said that the compensation was not paid to them,” he said.
Nnam however, said that government was committed to the peaceful resolution of the matter in the interest of all.
The commissioner said that it was sad that Eze threw caution to the wind by embarking on indiscriminate arrest of members of the community.
The youths numbering over 200 carried placards some of which read: “Use of earthmoving equipment to destroy our structures is the height of impunity; Obeagu has no deal with Kingsley Eze; Stop instigating violence in Enugu” among others.
The traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Mike Nnukwu, said that the takeover of the parcels of land had brought untold hardship to members of the community.
Nnukwu accused the Director of PEWA, Mr Kingsley Eze of harassing members of the community and pulling down ancestral structures on the land.
Also, the President General of the town union, Mr Andy Egbo faulted the claim that 1, 097 hectares of land were allocated to PEWA.
Egbo said that the community was aware that only 318 hectares of land was acquired in the community by the Old Anambra State government for the establishment of a university.
The president general, however, said that the acquisition process of the 318 hectares of land was not completed and compensation not paid. He appealed to the state government to prevail on PEWA to desist from taking their land forcibly.
When contacted, Eze said that he would not speak on the matter, adding that available information about the disputed land should be gotten from the Ministry of Lands.