…Eziashi backs Ned Nwoko, Aligbe challenges them, points the way out
Today, we conclude the first part of our report on the land tussle tearing Udumuje-Ugboko, a Delta community apart.
For over five years, since 2015, the crisis that has engulfed the people of Idumuje-Ugboko, a quiet suburb in the Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State appears not to be loosing steam. The whole crisis originated and centred on the quest for land for construction of a Golf Course and STARS University by Hon.
Prince Ned Nwoko, a member of the Community who has not ceased to remind all that development of the community is his inspiration. He has many supporters. There are also many who maintain that his acquisition of additional 90 hectares of land after an initial 30 did not follow due process. Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko and his supporters insist that he has valid allocations to the portions of the land.
The Obi, HRM Chukwu Nonso Nwoko who succeeded his father but is yet to be given title of office has remained dogged in his position that his father did not approve additional 90 hectares of land as claimed by Ned Nwoko who even presented documents to back his claim.
The authenticity of the said document is being questioned by the Obi who Ned Nwok fingers as being responsible for the controversy, saying that problem started when he started behaving like an emperor. Obi had last week narrated how he intercepted a letter of approval meant for his ageing and ailing father to sign. Our reporter cited a letter said to have been written by his father, clearing maintaining that he had not approved any land and even ordered activities on the said land to be stopped.
Mbanefo, younger brother of the Obi said that the Obi, on sensing what was happening, wrote to Ned Nwoko, a letter on 21st May, 2015, a copy of which was shown to our us, in which he stated, inter alia, that “I, His Royal Majesty hereby order that all activities on the said land should cease with immediate effect. I, His Royal Majesty hereby order that you should restrict your activities to the parcel of land already allocated to you in the past by the town.
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”Please be informed that the Izuani held on 25th April was not authorized by His Royal Majesty and therefore all decisions taken at the said meeting are null and void. Failure to comply will attract severe sanctions from the Palace”.
Noticing activities were still going on the said land, the Obi called the elders of the community, three from each of the four villages, and after a long discussion with them, he issued a second letter on 12th August, 2015 still disclaiming any new allocation to Ned Nwoko or his company by him. This letter was given to each elder and also read in all the local churches. This account was corroborated by 82-year old Engineer Goode Omezi as well as the Owu people whose land was affected.
But sure of the documents they had Linas International, we gathered, applied for Customary Right of Occupancy on 20th August, 2015 and on 14th December, 2015 backing it up with many documents. The Royal Family then met in December, 2015 with Ned Nwoko in attendance. At the meeting, some people were fined for the various roles they played in trying to smuggle letter to the late Obi, presenting allocation etc.
The Royal family affirmed in that meeting and published same in the Vanguard of 28th December, 2015 and 18th January, 2016, that no land had yet been given but “would work hard to convince the Izuani to grant it”. The Obi then issued a final letter of disclaimer on 18th January, 2016 of any allocation to Linas. The Local Government however issued Customary Right of Occupancy (CRO) certificates to STARS University which had insert of Ned Nwoko on the CRO.
In his reaction, Chris Aligbe said that to lay this matter to rest, Ned Nwoko should produce the original copy of his allocation letter signed by the Obi while the Chairman of the Land Allocation Committee who happens to be Chief Sunday Edemodu, the Odogwu of the town, should produce copies of Linas International application letters showing the trail of his dialogue with the Obi leading to approval of allocation of land to Ned Nwoko.
Meanwhile, Prince Walters Eziashi, a Bachelor’s Degree holder in Pharmacy from Uniben, an arch supporter of Hon. Ned Nwoko insists to the high heavens that Land was validly allocated to Ned Nwoko.
From our encounters with all who spoke, the land controversy rages on.