Group Alleges Enugu is Grabbing Land, Govt Denies it

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Bennett Oghifo

A group in Enugu State has alleged the government’s officials are grabbing land in several communities without due process and has appealed to the governor to intervene.

However, a senior official of the government, who asked to be anonymous because he was not authorised to speak, said it was not true that the government was grabbing community land and that the allegation was “concocted by some disgruntled persons who were out of favour with the government.

“The government is aware of plans by these people to cause disaffection in some communities in the state,” the official said.

Regardless, a statement by the group, signed by Mr. Okechukwu Ogbodo, said the government was taking over their land and that it had plans to take over some this week.

The group said in the last five years, some communities and individuals had lost their land to the state government, adding that some officials of the government take undue advantage of the government’s authority to grab land which they either build on or sell at will.

They appealed to the governor to stop these acts that they said reflected badly on his administration, using his position as the custodian of the state’s land under the Land Use Act.

“In Enugu State now, there are several estates linked to these government officials. No place is exempted by this evil act of land grabbing.”

They listed communities affected as Orba Town in Udenu LGA in a community called Owerre Ezeorba; Nsukka, in Nsukka LGA in Agbani Nguru Nsukka, where some government officials allegedly “destroyed people’s crops and were about to start erecting buildings therein before the people rose up to challenge their evil inversion. It took serious protest by the people of Nguru Community to scuttle that move.

“Some personalities in this community were even promised plots of land for them to back out of the protest but because of their integrity, they refused the offer and stood strongly with their people because they were aware that it is business as usual.

“At Ede-Oballa still in Nsukka LGA of Enugu State, these officials equally connived with some top politicians of Ede-Oballa extraction, forcefully enter into a land belonging to one village called Ekama in Umu-Aloke, and converted same to estate, still for personal and commercial purposes. Currently, plots of land are on sale in that estate to the tune of N5, 000,000.00 and above.

“At Ibagwa Nike in Enugu East LGA, the officials grabbed the communal land at Ibagwa still in the name of building Estate.” The group alleged that “After forcefully acquiring the land from the community, they percolated it amongst themselves.

“Recently they went to a place called Ugwuefulu in Ibagwa Nike where people have settled down with structure for years and ordered those living there to relocate without making arrangement for alternative home for them. As we speak, they are about to commence demolition of people’s houses in that place unless the governor steps in.

“At Ngwo in Enugu North LGA, these officials forcefully acquired lands belonging to Ngwo Community in the name of building estate. These estates are all commercial estates which were built against the will of the original owners of the land.” The group said other places are in Ogui Nike in Enugu North LGA; Akpoga Nike in Enugu East LGA of Enugu State, Obegu and Ndiagu Amechi both in Enugu South LGA; Owo in Nkanu East LGA, Agu-Abor in Udi LGA to mention but few.”

The group said the “worst of this evil is that these lands are forcefully acquired for selfish purposes and not to do anything that will benefit the general public.

“We are pleading to the general public to plead to his Excellency, the executive Governor of Enugu State to stop government officials from forcefully acquiring people’s land, which has the potent of rubbishing all his good work in the state.”