Enugu Community Threatens Showdown with Govt over Takeover of Land

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Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

Hundreds of youths, elderly men and women, clergies and members of civil society organizations from Ngwo community in Enugu North local government council of Enugu state yesterday threatened showdown with the Enugu state government over alleged plan by the later to take over their ancestral home.

The people of the community who embarked on a peaceful protest march to the contentious land, Ukwuna Iva-valley, along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, to pray and erect wooden cross at different locations in the land said they were totally opposed to the on-going construction of internal roads by the state government.

They marched round the land before being led in a prayer session by Rt. Rev . Vincent Onoh, the Methodist Bishop of Ihube in Imo state, while they put both arms on the ground as the prayer went on.

In a swift reaction however, Commissioner for Lands, Enugu state, Mr. Solomon Onah dismissed the protest as “kangaroo protest”, saying that government had several meetings with the community and agreed to give them 20 percent of the land amounting to 39 plots.

He said that he was not aware whether the matter was in court or not as the Attorney General of the state was part of the negotiations, insisting that he has all the documents relating to the deal.

But speaking to journalists, Bishop Onoh, an indigene of the community, pleaded with the state government to rescind its decision to take over the land which is their ancestral home, saying that his community has been ravaged with erosion over the years and the only good land should not be taken by force.

“I have built on this land and somebody as a governor came in here and destroyed everything. Let it be put on record today that we love the government of Governor (Ifeanyi) Ugwuanyi, we are not against this government, we voted for this government.

“I came all the way from Imo state on the day of inauguration because I came to show solidarity and if anybody should rise today under any guise and collaborate with anybody and say that this land has been given out, that person is son of perdition. He or they are not representing Ngwo people,” he said.

Another member of the community and former Director of Amnesty International, Northern Zone and currently National Leader of Enugu Youth Movement, Comrade Chris Agu stated that the land in question is under litigation before the current administration in the state went into the land.

He explained that the former Governor, Sullivan Chime went into the land and demolished all the structures therein before the community went to court and got an injunction restraining the state government pending the determination of the suit.

Agu said that the matter was in court when the new administration under Ugwuanyi came in and went into the land in
violation of the court injunction.

Elderly people from the community including 92 year old Chief Ude Nweze, Ozo Gabriel Ani, and Elder Alphonsius Ani all pleaded with the state government to keep off from the land which they had already shared out to their youths as their homestead.