By Festus Ahon, ASABA
YOUTHS of Achala-Igbuzor and Ezukwu of Igbuzor kingdom, Oshimili North Local Government Area, Delta State have embarked on a protest against the arrest and harassment of their indigenes by men of the Delta State Police Command to forcibly take over their land.
The protesters who took to the streets of the communities told the state police command hands off their land, reiterating that they were not willing to sell any part of their land which they said they needed for farming to engage the youths.
Speaking with newsmen during the protest, Youth President, Mr Momah Steven disclosed that the police authority; “is laying claim to over 60 hectares of land which our fathers did not give them.
“We don’t have such land to sell; one of our youths has been arrested and charged to court and initially all of us fled from the community when the police intimidation became unbearable until our fathers called us back because, according to them, they didn’t cede such land to police and they have not collected a dime from the police or anybody and as such we should stop running.
“The youths are agrieved. We want to farm on our land. We are not lazy youths and we are ready to farm if they allow us to use our land. If they take our land that simply means we are finished because it would amount to debasing us to strangers in our own land.
“They came to our community and met with our fathers that they wanted to buy land but nothing was paid and now we are saying we don’t want to sell again.
“Each time we raise our voice over the land matter, they go after us, arresting our youths and detaining them. They have even arrested His Royal Eminence, Ikwele of Ibuzor Kingdom and this is a slap on Ibuzor people.
“When they approached our fathers over this land that they wanted to build barrack, there was less population in this community. It turned out to be deception because, for about twenty years after, nothing was paid in form of compensation and the land is there wasting away even when we don’t have enough land for farming”.
Speaking in the same vein, an elderly member of the community, 82-years old Diokpa Paul Ijeh recalled that they were told police wanted to acquire the land but nothing concrete was done to acquire the said land.
Diokpa Ijeh, who claimed the land belong to him and his fore fathers, noted with regret that the land used to fetch him some money through leasing but presently, due to the police involvement he had been denied of such income.
Contacted, Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Bright Edafe declined comment on the matter, saying he needed to look into the issue property before he could make any comment.
Also contacted, the Commissioner for Land and Survey, Kate Onianwa disclosed that the state government procured land for the state Police Command about 20 years ago, adding that preparations toward payment of compensation for the said land had reached an advanced stage.