Cry of a bereaved man: Help! I have lost four members of my family to land dispute

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By DONALD ARJI

TREPIDATION has gripped members of Chikere family of  Ngwa community in Abia State over what they described as mysterious happenings which has claimed four members of the family.

First, was in 2011, when the breadwinner, Mr. Chikere Isih was snatched by death. Just as the family was recovering from the grief and vacuum created by his demise, death came again uninvited in April last year. This time around, it took away Mrs Chikere.

Again, in September 2012, it claimed the lives of two members of the family; the eldest son, Ejiofor who was in his thirties and Chukwudi who was in his twenties, with the cause of their death still shrouded in mystery.

There is, however, a twist in the whole saga as the family has attributed the calamity that has befallen them to the handiwork of some mischief makers who are bent on taking their father’s land from them.

Crime Alert’s investigation revealed that there had been a lingering dispute between the Chikeres and a member of their extended family over a land in Okpula. The land, said to be originally owned by one Nwaogaraya Isih, Chikere’s father, was inherited by the latter after the former’s demise.

Lasting solution to lingering war

In order to find a lasting solution to the lingering war, it was gathered that  a council of elders from Nchara and Ngwa communities met  on March 14, 1983 and at the end, resolved  that the land in question was rightly owned by the Chikeres.

*The land and house (inset) under dispute.

*The land and house (inset) under dispute.

But the dispute reportedly arose following claim by a female member of the Isih family that  she contributed to the purchase of the land and thus had claim over it.

According to a member of the council of elders in Ngwa who spoke under condition of anonymity, “ during the meeting, the Chikeres were directed to refund the amount the female member of the family contributed to the purchase of the land. A copy of the decision reached during the elders council meeting reads; “This day, March 14, 1983, the decision made by the council of elders chaired by Mr Kanu Isih, states that the Okpula land is owned by Nwaogaraya,  father of  Chikere and as culture demands that the sons will inherit their father’s property, since Chikere is the surviving son of Nwaogaraya, the land therefore belongs to him and that every member of the opposition party should stay away from the land. But since they claimed that their  mother contributed 10 shillings to Chikere’s mother when the land was redeemed from Ngwuba Ubani by Arocha. But  since they are not the biological children  of  Nwagowugwu Nwaogaraya,  they are therefore to collect the 10 shillings from Chikere and quit the land for ever.”

Despite the council of elders’ verdict, a member of the  opposition family has allegedly continued to threaten the Chikeres over the  land.

“Since the elders declared the land a no-go area for the opposition family, death has  become a recurrent decimal in our family,” lamented 26-year-old Ezra Chikere.

Decrying the woes that has befallen his family, Ezra continued; “Since the council of elders’ verdict over the land, peace has ceased to exist in our family. It is either we are  burying a member or we are battling to save someone’s life in the hospital, all because  we refused to surrender our inheritance.

“My uncle has confronted us several times to evacuate our father’s property if we valued our lives. When my mother was alive, he  confronted her and threatened that if she did not vacate the Okpula land  in the next one week, that  she would not live to see the week after.

“He made do his threat, as  my mother woke up one  morning and started sweeping the compound.

Reptile-like animal

“But the next thing we heard was a shout and when we rushed out to see what was happening,  we found her on the ground, screaming that a reptile-like animal  crept into her legs. Immediately, her legs were swollen and she died later. Five months later, I lost two of my brothers.

As if that was not enough, just last month, we were served a notice to quit the land, that it had been sold. We were made to understand that another  uncle  of ours sold the  property, including the land to a different buyer. Now they want us to leave our ancestral home, a house built by my father,without considering whether we have an alternative.

“I am  therefore using this medium to appeal to the  Abia State Government and the entire Nigerians to come to our aid because my uncle is bragging with charms and his financial might to take what rightfully belongs to us,” he said amidst tears.

Efforts to  speak with the uncle in question through phone  was to no avail as he  also ,refused to reply  the text messages sent.

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