The Ugwuaji-Awkunanaw Community in Enugu South Council has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate an alleged conversion and acquisition of its ancestral land by a private developer, the Coal City Eastern Extension Alliance Limited, without negotiation and consent.

It stated that a thorough investigation into how the company acquired the layouts would maintain economic sanity within the state.

In a petition to the anti-graft agency, made available to The Guardian in Enugu at the weekend, the community, under the auspices of Coalition of Ugwuaji Progressives (CUP), stated that the lands, which included Umunnugwu/Ndiaga layout, Valley layout and Promise layout legitimately belong to them and part of their ancestral heritage, adding that they were duly registered with the state Ministry of Lands and Urban Development.

The petition, signed by the coalition’s counsel, Obinna Ugwu, stated that, further to the registration and in exercise of their rights over the said layouts, the community had assigned, by way of sale, some parts of the layouts to some members of the public for residential purposes, while some were to be developed in conjunction with Titianium Projects and Steel Resources.

“However, while the members of the public, who bought into these layouts, were developing their portions as assigned to them, while our clients, on the other part, was also developing the remaining portions of the layouts, the Ministry of Housing, regardless of the advanced stages of development of the properties, moved in and commenced massive demolition of structures without notice or compensation.

“The demolition gave rise to public outcry, leading to supposed investigation by a panel of inquiry set up by the government of the state. It was during the pendency of the panel’s supposed investigation that the state Ministry of Lands and Urban Development issued a publication, notifying the general public of acquisition of the layouts by government of Enugu and named it, ‘Coal Estate Extension Layout/Estate,’ without awaiting the outcome of the inquiry by the panel set up by the same state government,” he stated.

Meanwhile, an official of the company, who would not want to be quoted, told The Guardian: “The acquisition followed due process.”