Enugu community protests police takeover of family land

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IGP Solomon Arase
IGP Solomon Arase

The aged, youths and children from Umuonovo Nwadine family in Etiti-Ozalla community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State yesterday staged peaceful protests against the unlawful acquisition of their family land by the police without compensation.
The ancestral land in question is located at Four Corner Junction, along the Enugu Port-Harcourt expressway.

The aggrieved family members who carried placards with various inscriptions, chanted songs and went to various media houses in the state while calling on the Enugu State government to intervene in the matter.

They asked that government should stop the police from putting further structures in the land without providing alternative land, in addition to paying adequate compensation as prescribed by law.

The placards read: “Leave our land for us”, “We don’t have another place to live”, “We don’t have another land”, “Don’t dispossesses us of our source of  livelihood”,  “Federal government, come to our aid”, “It is our ancestral land, leave it alone”, and “Nigeria police don’t take our land forcefully”, among others.

Addressing journalists, Chief Francis Chinweonu and Mr. Okoye Chibuike stated that despite petitions to the Inspector General of Police, the Police Service Commission, and the Attorney General of Federation and Minister for Justice, they have continued to construct more houses in the only land of the family.

Chief Chinweonu said they ran to the media as the voice of the poor and watchdog of the society to help take their plight to the Nigerian public, stressing that they no longer have any land to build their houses.

He alleged that their economic trees and cash crops worth over N700 million were destroyed with bulldozers while clearing the land without compensation.

The Umuonovo Nwadine clan had earlier in a pre-action notice dated 25th of January, 2016 and served on the Inspector General of Police, the Police Service Commission, and the Attorney General of Federation and Minister for Justice, raised concern that the aggressive manner in which more structures were being put up in land threatening the complete dispossession of their family’s ancestral land by the defendants, without provision of alternative land or adequate compensation as prescribed by law.

They warned that they would commence court action against the defendants jointly and severally to seek redress for the compulsory acquisition/alienation of their family land without provision of alternative land or compensation in line with the spirit of the letters of section 44(1) (a) and (b) of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

The family noted that in the event that the defendants refused to address the issues in the petition, it shall claim against the defendants jointly and severally as follows:;

“A declaration of the court that all that land lying and situate at Four Corner Junction, along the Enugu Port-Harcourt expressway subject matter of which the Nigeria Police Force in partnership with the Palm Brook Manors Enugu, Consultant/Developer, the Oak Development Ltd with its partners; the New Prudential Mortgage Bank Ltd are putting up structures and aggressively thinking to put up more structures and are entitled to Customary Right of Occupancy and should be entitled to the grant of alternative land and the benefit of section 44 (1) of 1999 Constitution of Nigeria requiring adequate compensation.

“Payment of N2 billion only being compensation for compulsory acquisition of plaintiffs’ family land by the defendants jointly or severally.

“Order for grant of alternative land or forfeiture of the plaintiffs’ land by the defendants, and up to date information and re-establishment of survey of the plaintiffs land in issue.” (24UReports)

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