CITIZENS COMPASS —Hundreds of protesters from Ifite village, Enugwu-Agidi in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State on Saturday, December 9, 2023, ttrooped out to kick against land grabbing in the area.
They called on government at all levels to rescue them from tje menace of land grabbers.
The protesters bore placards with various inscriptions which read, ‘Soludo, please, give solution to our lands,’ ‘Registration of Dubai Estate within Ifite Village Land Is Illegal,’ among others as they marched through the Ministry of Lands and Governor’s House in Awka, the the state capital.
The protesters alleged that the Commissioner was aiding and conniving with the land grabbers and other trespassers to re-register their lands, which, they said, had already been registered in 2021 as Trans-Obibia Layout, gazetted, and also published in the Anambra State Official Gazette.
At the Government House, they also indicted the Management of a Real Estate and Investment Company (name withheld) and a security organisation in the area.
The leader of the protesters and former Vice Chairman of the village, Benjamin Ejinaka, said, “Our major aim of this protest is to express our grievances and dissatisfaction over what has been going on in our community and our lands, as well as t seek the intervention of the appropriate authority, to ensure the right thing is done.
The owner of a security company as well as an estate agent in the area had also trespassed into our lands and hence our request for the immediate cancellation of the said re-registration approved by the Ministry of Lands, as well as the instant return of our lands to us. There is an urgent need for the Governor’s attention and intervention on the matter.
Sometime in 2001, and consequent upon the promulgation of Trans-Obibia Layout Planning Scheme Enugwu-Agidi Approval Order 2001, Anambra State, published in Anambra state Official Gazette No. 8 Vol. 15, December 2005 at Page 3 197-8203, the Trans-Obibia Layout was created and established in Enugwu-Agidi.
“The creation came after due surveying, parcellations and procedures approved by the appropriate authorities, including Bureau of Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, Awka, Anambra State Urban Development Board (ASUDEB), as it then was.”
Ejinaka continued, “The indigenes of Ifite Village in Enugwu-Agidi were the allotees/grantees of the Trans-Obibia Layout, as was allotted/granted to us in 2015 by the Mbanano Community.
“The members of the village were granted a total of 338 plots of land out of the plots and the area of the Layout, the Trans-Obibia Layout.
The ownership of the 338 plots of lands within Trans-Obibia Layout by the members of lfite Village Enugwu Agidi has never been contested or challenged by any person or group of persons, as everybody knows we are the rightful owners of the land.
“But to our greatest surprise, the Commissioner and the Ministry of Land, despite all their assurances, recently went on and re-registered the said lands as Ifite Ogbanadiji Layout as well as registered/approved the establishment of an estate company.
“These gave the management of the estate the backing and boldness to trespass further into our lands, resurveying and parcellating it, as well as destroying the economic trees thereon and its original master plan with the number DRG No. /AWK/65.
The management of the estate company had severally bullied us with security operatives on the land, and had gone forth to forcefully take over our lands and establish the Estate company thereon against our wish, while the villagers, who are predominantly farmers now lack and beg around for lands to farm to provide food for their families.”
Addressing the protesters on behalf of the Commissioner, the Surveyor-General of the state, Anthony Idigo, assured them that their grievances and demonstration had been noted and would be treated with utmost consideration.
He further assured that the Commissioner would schedule a roundtable discussion with the people on the concerns raised during the protest, for a more
comprehensive and fruitful deliberation, and initiation of necessary actions towards addressing their grievances.
At the Government House, Awka, a three-man delegation from among them, was engaged in an instant roundtable discussion with the Chief Security Officer to the Governor shortly after they were generally addressed by the Administrative Police Officer of the Government House, SP Obiora Onyemauche, while the people went home full of expectations.
When contacted, a director of the indicted Real Estate and Investment Limited, Anthony Ezenwa, said they followed all the necessary procedures to procure the said lands, adding that the lands in question did not even totally belong to the community (but government), except a very few portions that belonged to few individuals in the village, and which he said they also paid for.