Tag Archives: land dispute

Scores missing, houses burnt in Akwa Ibom, Cross River’s communities boundary dispute

Map of Nigeria showing Akwa Ibom and Cross River States

Several people were said to be missing on Tuesday morning and houses set ablaze in a renewed boundary hostility between the people of Ikot Offing in Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River State and Oku Iboku, in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

The two communities have been at each other’s jocular over control of a piece of land for the past 30 years, leading to loss of lives and property at both ends.

“Earlier today, the assailants came loaded in two 75 horsepower speedboats, they engaged in a 25-minute gun battle with the military at the checkpoint.

“The calibre of weapons used by these assailants forced the people to flee for their dear lives, although the military officers were also equipped with machine guns,” a source said.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Macdon, who confirmed the attack, said the Commissioner of Police, Andrew Amiengheme, has mandated the Divisional Police Officer in Itu Division, Celestine Ude, to carry out an assessment of the situation and report back to him.

Macdon, who confirmed that some houses were torched, said until the DPO gives first-hand information, the command would not be able to say what actually transpired.

He said, “We have received a preliminary report about the renewed crisis, no lives reported lost. We are still awaiting a more discreet situational report because the CP, has ordered the DPO of Itu LGA division to proceed and give him first-hand information about the crisis.

“For now, the situation there is under control, there is no cause for alarm. It’s only when the DPO comes back that we can get comprehensive report. I hear that some houses were ransacked and some shops were burnt, but we are yet to get more information about what really transpired”.

PUNCH

Cross River, Ebonyi Stakeholders Seek Amicable End to Century Old Land Dispute

Nigerian map showing Ebonyi, Cross River States

Stakeholders in Cross River and Ebonyi states on Tuesday came together at a round table to embrace peace and work towards finding lasting solution to land disputes spanning a century.

The round table which was at the instance of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) aimed at bring peace to the area and subsequently creating an atmosphere for the National Boundaries Commission to demarcate the boundaries between the warring communities.

At the round table are representatives from the warring communities in Abi, Obubra, Yala local government areas of Cross River State, and Abakaliki, Uzzi and Ikwo local government areas of Ebonyi State, with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, National Orientation Agency, National Emergency Management Agency, National Boundaries Commission and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Also at the round table are representative from both Ebonyi and Cross River state governments, federal lawmakers representing the areas in dispute.

Speaking at the Opening, the Director General of IPCR, Dr. Bakut Bakut said this meeting of stakeholders has become very necessary because of the recurrent nature of the conflict and its changing dynamics.

He lamented that: “The loses in both human and material ramifications, as a result of this age long conflict that spans over a 100 years in some cases, has been enormous, unimaginable and embarrassing.

“This is no longer acceptable, hence this very enlarged stakeholders meting cutting across government officials, traditional rulers, town union/opinion leaders, women leaders, youth leaders, security agencies and other critical agencies connected with finding solutions to such a hydra headed conflict.”

He said: “Disagreements on issues are bound to exist where two or more people are involved. Conflicts are therefore inevitable amongst human beings, but the most important thing there is for if not to be violent, while strategic steps are taken to resolve such disagreements.”

Bakut said: “The conflict between these communities in these local governments have become so perennial and catastrophic, such that we have to o take a more strategic and positive position on their resolution.

In a key note address, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha who was represented by one of the Directors in his office, Mrs. Veronica Agugu said: “Despite all the issues, government at all levels has intervened in the crisis with a view of restoring lasting peace to these two states. It is noteworthy to mention that, this two state governments have established a pact to maintain peace between the warring communities.”

He lamented that the prevalence of communal conflicts has serious implication for socio-economic development and national security of the country.

A communique is expected at the end of the round table which draws to a close on Wednesday.

Committee to sensitise Enugu and Ebonyi communities affected by land dispute

The Deputy Governor of Enugu State and Chairman of the Enugu State Boundary Commission, Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo, has stressed the need for adequate sensitisation to be carried out in disputed border communities of Enugu and Ebonyi States before the determination and demarcation of interstate boundaries between the two states.

She spoke during a joint meeting of officials on Enugu/Ebonyi interstate boundaries held at Government House, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

Ezeilo said, “Violence, conflict, insecurity and absence of rule of law triggered by border and land skirmishes can foist debilitating fragility on communities and people, hence the need for urgent and adequate measures, and policies to reduce the scramble for land and territorial sovereignties within communities and states.

“Worthy of note is the fact that the present Ebonyi/Enugu interstate was at one time inter-divisional boundary between Abakaliki and Nsukka division which was transformed into part of the intra-state boundary of the old Enugu State before the creation of Ebonyi State in October 1996,” she stated.

Earlier in his contribution, the Executive Secretary of Enugu State Boundary Committee, Barr. Solomon Ejim stressed the need for Enugu and Ebonyi States to maintain peace till the final determination and documentation of the boundary lines.

Enugu High Court bars Ugwuanyi’s  Administrative panel on Ugwuaji  land disputes

An Enugu State High Court presided over by Justice Ajah has suspended the the sitting of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry into the land dispute in Ugwuaji community, Enugu South Local Government Area.

Ruling in a motion ex parte on Tuesday in Suit No. E/464M/2020 brought by the applicants, Paul Anike and Chinenye Maduekwe(for themselves and on behalf of the people of Ogui Nike and Umunevo Ogui Nike Communities), Aja ordered the respondents to stay all actions relating to the issue of ownership and or boundaries of the disputed land.

The respondents include the six members of the panel namely, James Ikeyi, Godwin Ugwoke, Prof. Daniel Nwachukwu, Godwin Ishiwu, Chudi Ozokolo and Robinson Odo being the first to sixth respondents.

Others are the Governor of Enugu State and the Attorney General of Enugu State being the seventh and eight respondents respectively.

The court also granted an order of substituted service of the originating processes and other processes on the first to sixth respondents by pasting the same at the front door of the entrance of the venue of their sitting at Abuja Building, Government House, Enugu.

The court also granted an order for substituted service of the originating process and other processes on the state governor through the office of the Attorney General of the state.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the applicants had through their counsel, Mr A. C. Anaenugwu (SAN) approached the court to challenge the setting up of the panel by the state government.

Anaenugwu said that the motion was brought pursuant to Order 40, Rule 3(1) and (2) of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2006, Section 72 of the Administrative Law, Cap. 6 Revised Law of Enugu State.

Recall that the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Simon Ortuanya had on Sept. 3, 2020 inaugurated the administrative Panel of Inquiry.

However, the applicants faulted the move on the grounds that the issues pertaining to the terms of reference of the panel were already before the court.

Ogui Nike Youth Council reject Enugu govt committee on Ugwuaji land crisis

Ogui Youth Council, in Enugu North Local Government Area of Enugu State have rejected the six man panel set by the State Government to investigate the Ugwuaji land dispute as the land in question is a subject of litigation in court between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities.

The youth body instead called on the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to use his good offices to effect the immediate cessation of trespass and intrusion into Ogui Nike land by the Ministry of Housing, Awkunanaw Communities and illegitimate entrants.

In a letter to the Governor, titled, RE: AGUOWO OGUI NIKE COMMUNITY LAND: HISTORY, FACT AND A CALL FOR GOVERNMENT RESOLUTION AND JUSTICE, signed by it’s Chairman Oluchukwu Fidelis, the youths faulted the setting up of a committee to only investigate issues of contention among Ugwuaji communities even where the said land in question do not belong to Awkunanaw.

They requested for the immediate implementation of the boundary decision between Ogui and Awkunanaw communities as established by a 1942 Inter-tribal Boundaries’ Settlement Ordinance No. 49 of 1933, which was further affirmed by the former Deputy Governor, who was the then Chairman, Enugu State boundry Committee , Ezenwata Okechukwu Itanyi, the then Surveyor General of Enugu, C C Isife and others.

The youths who claimed that various key institutions and offices of the State are in the custody of some of the facts, evidences and credible documents regarding the Ogui Nike land boundry with Awkunanaw communities said, government should be proactive in order to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order which could be born in the course of the land dispute adding that it is now like a gathering storm which may snowball into a hurricane of sort if good measures are not taken.

According to them, some of the facts annexed in there letter to the governor as it relates to the land predate Nigeria independence which were recognized by the previous successive governments of Eastern region, East Central state, old Anambra, old and the present Enugu States of Nigeria.

They include, “The 1942 enquiry into a land dispute between Ogui Nike and Awkunanaw which was headed by Geoffrey Horne, A.D.O under the inter-tribal boundaries’ settlement ordinance No. 49 of 1933 to decide boundary between Awkunanaw and the Nike Clan in the then Agbani District of Udi Division of the Onitsha province.

“Through this Ordinance, the boundaries of Ogui Nike/Awkunanaw as well as Nike/Ngwo were determined and it established that the Aguowo land which includes the dispute area has been in exclusive possession and farmed by Ogui Nike without any challenge whatsoever.

“Also in 2002 following the acquisition of Independence Layout phase 11, Enugu State Government had set up a committee headed by the then Deputy Governor of Enugu State; Ezenwata Okechukwu Itanyi.

“The Committee after deliberations resolved the problem of boundry between Ogui and Awkunanaw communities by adopting a three-pronged approach viz; reconnaissance, field operation, GIS mapping and coordination as well as invoked the decision of the national boundary commission that adopted boundary for Enugu North and Enugu South, which by extension served as the boundary for the two communities.

The Youth council noted that, both Ogui Nike, Amaechi and Ugwuaji communities were both represented by professional surveyors as witnesses in addition to State Government Surveyor General and Zonal surveyor. The following surveyors were nominated by the communities,
L.C Eneje- Ugwuaji
R.C Chukwu-Amaechi
N.J Igwebike- Ogui Nike.

They further stated that following a request by Ogui Nike, Awkunanaw communities the government of Enugu State after careful assessment and evaluation confirmed that 33% of the land used for the development of the independence layout phase II housing estate project, was originally owned by
Ogui Nike, while 66% fell in the land originally owned by Awkunanaw (Amaechi and Ugwuaji). Consequently, both Awkunanaw and Ogui Nike received compensatory plots which were ceded back to them by government in 2005.

The youth council also attached a letter from Bar E.E Egbo, a native of Ugwuaji and Company dated 23 May 2012 which equally confirms and recognises the indisputable fact that 33% of the land used for the Independence Layout, Phase ll belongs to Ogui Nike wherein he pleaded to the Enugu State Government to recognise Ugwuaji as beneficiaries to the compensation due to the Awkunanaw communities.

Also included in the letter is a court case filed in 2005 by Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw seeking the nullification of the government final decision in respect of the report of the boundary between Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw and Ogui Nike.

“After series of court appearances for about fourteen years from 2005 to 2019 without credible evidence or fact, Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw on 5th June 2019 pleaded with the Court to discontinue the matter thereby accepting previous decisions of the colonial administration (1942) and government of Enugu State on the land. The plea for discontinuance was granted on 28th January 2020 by Hon Justice A.O Anidi.

“While recognising the report of the boundary dispute between Obeagu Ugwuaji Awkunanaw and Ugwuaji Awkunanaw communities all in Enugu South Local Government, (ESLN No 16); and the Technical Report of the Enugu State boundary dispute between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities comprising (Amaechi and Ugwuaji) part 1 and II (ESLN No 17 and 18), the Enugu State Gazette published on 24, December 2015, Government therefore affirmed and confirmed that the boundary between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities remain consistent with 1942, 2002 and 2005 decisions by the successive colonial and democratic government at the times in question.

The youth council while expressing dismay that Ogui Nike Community have been visited with outright violence, torture and intimidation, added that there’s been consistent trespass in their land with impunity which has consequently resulted in the disruption of viable and legitimate economic activities in the Area.

Part of the letter reads: “Over the past few years, there has been consistent trespass into the Ogui Nike Community land by members of Ugwuaji Awkunanaw community including: disruptions of viable and legitimate economic activities of Ogui Nike community members, attempts to illegally usurp and manage properties in the said location, sales and allocation of land belonging to Ogui Nike by Ugwuaji Community, physical torture, intimidation, violation of rights of people of Ogui Nike Community and flagrant abuse of court orders and Executive instructions.

“As we are no longer suspecting that the act is being supported by state authorities which is evident in the presence of State Ministry of Housing in the dispute area,
we therefore call on government to leave our only remaining land and do a wholistic inquiry into not just Ugwuaji land problems but to also determine and recommend effective implementation of existing boundry demercation between Enugu North and South local government areas which include the land in dispute between Ogui Nike and Awkunanaw communities as established by both Enugu state boundry committee and the National Boundry Commission”, they stated.

Court Restrains Enugu Lawmaker Over Alleged Land Grabbing Court

The piece of land in dispute

An Enugu High Court presided over by Justice E. N. Alukwu has restrained an Enugu lawmaker, Mr Emeka Madu, from further trespassing or selling of a portion of land in dispute in the state capital.

Madu is representing Igboeze South in the Enugu State House of Assembly.

Ruling in a motion ex-parte in suit no. E/50/2020, Alukwu also restrained the defendant/respondent, his agents, privies and workmen from obstructing, destroying or erecting any structure on any portion of the disputed land.

The court ordered for hearing notice to be issued on the defendant and adjourned the case until June 24, for all pending motions.

It would be recalled that the plaintiffs Chukwuani Afamefuna, Chukwuani Kenechukwu and Chidera Okoye had dragged Madu to court over a disputed land situated at Artisan Market, Asata, Enugu.

The plaintiffs in their statement of claims averred that since 1970, they had been in continuous possession of the piece of land measuring 8,860.67 square meters through their predecessor in-title, Alhaji Zubairu Isa.

They said that the land originally owned by Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), was allocated to Isa in 1970 under Temporary Occupation License by NRC.

The plaintiffs said that upon the death of Isa, his son Muazu Zubairu transferred all his interest in the land to the plaintiff’s late fathers as joint owners by virtue of an agreement dated July 13, 2000.

They averred that their late fathers jointly applied for a change of ownership which was approved through a letter dated Aug. 8, 2000.

They claimed that sometime in 2019, some concerned neighbours informed them that the defendant had broken into the property, removed all tenants and pulled down all lockup stores in the premises with earth-moving equipment.

They averred that upon confronting him for trespass, the defendant threatened to use his federal might to arrest them.