By Lawani Mikairu
Communities in Enugu State are protesting over what they alleged is the government method of forcefully taking over their ancestral lands.
Reports indicate that crisis is already brewing at Ibagwa Nike, where government is planning to take over the ” ancestral land of the Umuaneke Ode family with over 150 buildings already erected there”.
The report further alleged that the state government has threatened to demolish the houses, claiming that the traditional ruler of the community gave it the land to build estate.
However, the State government has said that compensations are usually paid by the government on any land acquired for developmental purpose.
An indigene of the state and stakeholder who claimed government wanted to seize his land, Ikechukwu Ogbodo, told reporters that since the Governor took over office in 2015 his administration has amassed lands in all the local government areas of the state.
“Since 2015, virtually all local government areas within the state and the communities therein have suffered one way or another in the way the state government grabs people’s land. In Enugu State now, there are several estates built by the state government from lands taken from people without compensation”.
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“No place is exempted from land grabbing. Even at the Governor’s home town at Orba in Udenu LGA of Enugu State, the state government went to a community called Owerre Ezeorba and collected 800 plots of land belonging to the community .”
“At Nsukka, in Nsukka LGA of Enugu State, the government destroyed people’s crops and were about to start erecting buildings therein before the people rose up to challenge their 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,” Ogbodo said.
“But the irony is that the money does not go into government coffers; it is taken by individuals close to government. They see this entirely as business but they use government platform to do private business. This government particularly has propensity for land. Sometimes government takes advantage of communities that are having clashes and take over the contested land and use it. Sometimes it just takes over people’s land, using traditional rulers that invite them to take people’s land,” a source said.
But a government official who didn’t want to be named denied these allegations and said that any land taken by government is compensated for and that in its development programme, government has embarked on building estates in different parts of the state to provide accommodation for the teeming residents and to provide affordable home for the citizens.