By Chimaobi Nwaiwu
Over twenty years land dispute between two villages in Oba Community, Idemili South Local Government Area Anambra State, took a drastic turn with the destruction of over fifty residential buildings and seventy fences, belonging to the people of Ezelle Mbana, Oba village and their tenants.
The land dispute between Ezelle Mbana village and Umuezegbute family, all of Oba, took the dangerous dimension with the destructions of the residential buildings and fences, belonging to Ezelle Mbana people, following two court victories awarded by both Ogbaru High Court and the Court of Appeal Awka, Anambra State to Umuezegbute family.
According to a lawyer to Ezelle Mbana Village and their Isu Village landlord, Chief John Nso, “properties worth several millions of naira were destroyed in those dwelling houses, defenceless people wounded and lives maimed.”
In a petition to the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, on behalf of his clients from Ezelle village, Chief Nso, said “The horrendous wickedness, brigandage and wanton destruction of lives and properties were committed in the process of a purported execution of the judgement of a High Court in Anambra State, won by Umuezegbute family over a land dispute against Isu Village Oba and Ezelle Mbana Village, also of Oba, even when two Appeals are pending against the judgement.”
“They are planning to continue the destruction until the whole town is cleared or wiped out. Even at that in executing judgement for possession of the land, a reasonable force is only required in taking possession from the judgement debtors and not destroying and pulling down dwelling houses, maiming and wounding defenceless citizens.”
However, lawyer to Umuezegbute family Oba, Mr Gerald Ezeuko, SAN, said that “Ezelle Village goofed when they went to Appeal Court to appeal against the judgement of the High Court which awarded victory in the land dispute to his clients, instead of settling with them by paying the arrears of the Customary tribute the High Court directed them to pay within thirty days.
“Again the new generation of the youths in Ezelle Village, started the trouble, by selling the farmland given to them by Umuezegbute Family when they have not been paying their landlords the required approved royalty, (Customer tributes)
“In the Judgement Order of Hon Justice Ike Ogu, on,28th day of February 2019, in the Suit No. HID/92/1999 said that Umuezegbute family of Isu village Oba are the owners of the entire parcel of land known as and called Isiakabo land and Udugwu lands situate at Isu village Oba.
“The Plaintiff, Ezelle village Oba, are hereby directed to pay all arrears of their Customary tributes to Umuezegbute family within thirty days, failing which the Plaintiff, the Ezelle village are deemed to have forfeited for misconduct all rights of residence and/or interest in the part of Isiakabo land granted to them by the 1st and 2nd Defendants, Umuezegbute family.
“Interestingly, the Court also granted Umuezegbute family possession of the said part of Isiakabo land and awarded a cost of N50,000 against Ezelle village, and made an order of perpetual injunction restraining Ezelle village from tampering with the land.
“Ezelle village went to appeal and when we waited for them to pursue their appeal, they did not because they knew their appeal lacks merit, so we filed a motion to dismiss their appeal and the Court of Appeal in the Appeal No. CA/AW/626M/2019 on Wednesday 18th day of March, 2020, rightly dismissed their appeal, so once their appeal has been dismissed, there is nothing for the court to do again, so Umuezegbute now had to go in and take their land, that is the position.
“So they Ezelle Mbana people should not be deceiving the public by telling lies about what transpired. If their appeal has been dismissed, the proper procedure is it to just file another notice of appeal like they did, on the same dismissed appeal, once an appeal is dismissed, it is gone.
“He who owns the land owns everything in the land and since Umuezegbute has been declared in the High and Appeal Courts as owners of the land, whatever they do with it and what is contained in it, is their business. The court gave them power of ownership and possession and they executed it.”