Land Conflict Engulfs the Sleepy Town in Niger Delta


Ifeanyi Konyehi

Pandemonium engulfed the quiet town of Oyibu in one of the Niger Delta states of Nigeria, Delta, as many youths have run away for their dear lives following death threat from security agents and the traditional ruling house of the community.

When our reporter spoke to middle-aged man, who was involved in the conflict, Chucks Alika, who later ran away from his community following the pleading from his parent not to visit home, he narrated that “an investor came to my town and wanted to build an institution of higher learning with a promise to pay the owners of the lands taken for the school project, but the monarch of the agrarian community refused.”

Chucks told this reporter on telephone that the traditional ruler hinted all the land owners that he is the as the ruler of the land, he owns everything, and that financial compensation for the land should be paid to him.

According to him, “The money for the lands he should be paid to him. And the man pay him the money not knowing that the king didn’t give the people who own the lands the money while the school owner started working on the land, which offset the youths in the community.

“They stopped the ongoing working on the land because this is the only land the people use as means for their livelihood (mostly subsistence farming). When we confronted the man, he disclosed that he had paid the money (our money) to the king, still the youths insisted that he would not build on the land until he invite our monarch. The king said he’s the owner of the lands whatever he said is final, and the youths protested against the ruling which prompted the king to invite which led to the killing of one of the youths called Ayo close to my father’s house. I was very lucky to have been cut with machete which left an injury on my hand, consequently, my brother and I escaped to another town.”

It was also learnt that the king further reported the matter to the state government, “and we were declared wanted when the king give them the list of people who their father own the land, and up till now, I have never seen my brother who moved to neighbouring Edo State to look for some of us who ran away. I moved to Lagos I see someone who took me to his house. When I called my mother that I was staying with somebody, my mum said I should be careful as nobody could be trusted because the traditional ruler was out for us. My mother warned me not come back home that the king was still after the youths, so I move to Abuja from where I moved to Libya.”

When contacted the Division Police Officer of the Divisional Police Station in the town, Mr. Yusuf Abubakar, over the crisis, he told the reporter that the matter was under investigation, and  that many of the youths who returned were arrested and would be tried in the court of law.

 He warned the youths to desist from violence, and that no community develops in an environment of rancor and violence.