Governor Okowa of Delta State
A Niger Delta community has cried out against oppression and injustice meted out on them by their neighbor and fellow Deltans. The Residents of Ogbeowele New-layout in Okpanam, Oshimili North Council Area of Delta State are protesting against the demolition of their property in a boundary crisis between Ibusa and Okpanam communities.
Ibusa youths from Umudafe Quarters had till Thursday embarked on demolition of houses and parameter fences with caterpillars and paraded a Supreme Court order, ceding the controversial area to them.
They carried placards of various inscriptions, “Delta State Government Save Us From Oppression, Gov Okowa Save-Our-Souls, Okowa Save Us From Land Mongers-Grabbers, Our Pension Is At Stake.
We Are Still Indebted To Cooperative Societies, Lands And Survey Say No To Uninterpreted Judgement,” as they march to reject harassment and intimidation by land speculators.
The oppressed and protesting community took to the ever-busy Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway with the intention of attracting not only the Delta state government but the general public as well.
The protesters were made up of landlords, landladies, tenants, and developers in the locality, who earnestly appealed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to wade into the dispute before it escalated into a bloodbath.
The protesters numbering 100, threatened to take their destinies into their hands if the Governor, the state’s Ministries of Lands and Survey, Urban and Regional Planning, Justice and the Governor’s Office on Conflict Resolution did not intervene immediately.
The Committees Chairman of the demolished area, Chief Joseph Obi, supported by a Board of Trustees (BoT) member in the area, Mr Fabian Okiah, who said they have survey plans and Certificates of Occupancy (CoO), maintained that they have built and have been living in the area for over 15 years.
Demolished BuildingsArea in Delta State
“The youths from Ibusa, led by one Jerry Nkemweshe, a.k.a Babies, and followed by over 50 policemen took the law into their hands, destroying property worth billions of naira. These are steps that will not bring peace.
We call on the state government to swiftly intervene. If we had retaliated, lives would have been lost,” Obi said.
“Nobody would be happy to see his properties destroyed. On this land that they say they have a judgment, they came sometimes ago and we went to the Ministry of Lands and Survey.
They were shown where to stop, however, they are already encroaching and going into the town destroying properties and houses,” he asserted.
Describing the people of Umudafe as ‘land grabbers,’ residents of Akwu-Ukwa referred to the process as a scheme to defraud them into paying twice for their land.
They called on the state government to wade into the situation to prevent additional loss of properties and lives. Corroborating, Dada Augustine Okoli, the original owner of the area, said that if not for government, there would have been bloodshed over the crisis.
Okoli, who sold the family lands to several landlords lamented the decision of the people of Umodafe to flout the directive of the Ministry of Lands and Survey, Delta State, promising to go to any lengths to safeguard his properties.