People of Ogwugwu/Umueze Oba community in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State have protested alleged encroachment on their ancestral lands and demolition of about 70 houses by land grabbers aided by suspected armed thugs.
The protesters carried placards with varying inscriptions as: “Save our soul, our land is not for sale”, “Save our land from land grabbers”, “Land grabbers are demolishing our homes”, “Stop selling our land to land agents”, among others.
Addressing newsmen, Chairman of the community, Barr. Chuba Oranusi recalled that the community ceded a portion of the land to the state government, during former Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju era, who gave it to a certain land development firm for construction of market.
He added that it was then agreed that the firm would not go beyond the boundary given to it by the community even as a paltry compensation of N72 million out N144million they agreed to pay was paid.
He said, “They never came back to commmence work on the project until now they came with bulldozers, pall loaders, military, police, armed thugs, among others, and commenced encroachment on our land and demolishing any building within reach, exceeding the portion given to them.
“For four days now they have continued the encroachment and demolition of structures, including destruction of our wives’ farmlands and economic trees. Some of us have forcefully abandoned our ancestral land/homes and fled for our lives.
“What you see here are touts, people who use government apparatus to acquire community land. But we will not allow them, let them just develop the portion we gave to them, we are not interested in the compensation.
“What they do is as they demolish, they call buyers and sell at N10million, N5million, as the case may be, for a plot. So many were beaten up when they approached them to know what was amiss.
“We urge Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo to come to our rescue as we have been rendered homeless and the encroachment is still ongoing. They are not even developing the market they claimed they wanted to build.
“The destruction is unquantifiable as it was a land where we buried our grandfathers. We were born in this land and have lived here since Adam.”
Also speaking, youth leader, Uchenna Obiegbu, said the community had been gripped with fear of uncertainty as their houses have been demolished and more are being demolished.
“We can never be alive and see land grabbers and greedy land speculators confiscate our fatherland. I have just been withholding our youths to avoid bloodshed but that has a limit,” he said.
When contacted, spokesman of the construction firm, Mr. Mike Egbule, dismissed the allegations, saying the firm never went beyond the portion given to it.
“It was rather the people of the community that encroached on our land. What we’re doing is to recover those land they encroached upon. We have the land’s master plan and team of surveyors were with us to ensure we recover our own land,” he explained.
Source: The Nation