By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka—THE people from Nawfia in Njikoka local government area of Anambra State have appealed to the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano to intervene on behalf of the community over alleged confiscation of their communal land by some officials in the ministry of lands and the state Housing Corporation, with the connivance of some indigenes of the town.
The people said they were initially given the impression that the land was acquired by the Nigerian Army for the construction of a housing estate, adding, however, that their investigations showed that the hierarchy of the Army was not aware of any military housing estate in Anambra State.
Chairman of Urualor/Umuejimofor Village Association, one of the villages that own the land, Mr. Chukwuma Obunneme, said hundreds of economic trees in the over 100 hectares of land have been destroyed, and the entire area was being fenced by the speculators without the consent of the people and without paying any compensation.
Obumneme said they were surprised when they went to harvest their crops in the area early this year to see some soldiers brandishing arms and warning them not to step into the land again.
Waving placards and marching along the Enugu –Onitsha expressway with inscription such as “Save us from Nigerian Army invasion please”, “No compensation, no land”, “Army leave our land alone”, “Governor Obiano rescue Nawfia people from Nigerian Army”, “Stop destroying our economic trees”, “This land provides our only source of income”, and “Where do you want our children to live?”, the people believed that only Governor Obiano’s intervention would make the people concerned to vacate from Nawfia land.
He said: “While we were wondering who might have illegally entered our land, the next thing we saw was a military signpost and since then, they have not allowed us to enter our land.
They have destroyed all the crops in the farms, including cassava, yams and plantain and cut down all the palm trees and raffia palms. Most of our women who go to the farm daily have been crying as they are no longer allowed to enter their farms.”
Also speaking, the chairman of Urukpaleri Village, Chief Anthony Nwinyi, whose village also owns a section of the land said that when his people noticed what was going on, he personally went to the headquarters of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu.
He added that even though the GOC informed him that he did not know anything about the military presence there, soldiers have continued to occupy the area on daily basis.
Nwinyi said: “In my presence, the GOC signaled the Onitsha Military Cantonment who also said that he did not know anything about it. The GOC told me that it is not possible for the Army to have two formations in a state and advised me to go to the state government.
“After briefing my people, they asked me to go to the Ministry of Lands, Awka and the officials directed me to the Anambra State Housing Corporation. At Housing Corporation, they called one Sunday Odumegwu, who is from our town and he claimed that compensation for the land had been fully paid when the corporation acquired the site for the proposed Liberation Estate in the Capital Territory.”