There was pandemonium at Obi Ugbe, Idumugbe Village, Umuonaje Quarters Asaba, Delta State, yesterday, as the state government allegedly demolished over 45 houses, including uncompleted buildings and other property worth millions of naira.
Youths and land-owners were seen lamenting, as Ministry of Lands’ officials invaded the place with fierce-looking security personnel and eight bulldozers to demolish the houses.
The Guardian learnt that the youths, who attempted to resist their actions were beaten and chased out of the community before the buildings were pulled down, unchallenged.
Those whose buildings were demolished include the Onu-Diopka of Idumugbe Village, Ogbueshi Eugene Umunna, Cyril Monyei, George Akan, Oluchukwu Mike Nwabueze, youth chairman, Michael Nezianya Rowland Nkwor, Michael Godswill Onyeka and others.
They all lamented the government’s actions and vowed to resist what they described as “insensitive and oppression of the highest order”.
The State Commissioner for Lands, Kate Onianwa, was said to have ordered the demolition for the government to acquire the land for commercial purposes.
The Onu-Diopka of the community, Ogbueshi Eugene Umunna, expressed disappointment that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa could allow his commissioner to cause them “pains at this hard time”.
Umunna said the community belonged to them and as such “we will not let go of the land because we have two Supreme Court judgments on this land: first in 1970 and the second in 1978”.
“Apart from that, in this land, we have the Writ of Possession from the government since 1976, as well as the Certificate of Warrant of Possession since 2004, which was gazetted, and with an injunction to dissuade people, even the government from trespassing the land
Offering an explanation to further buttress the Right of Ownership, Chief Umunna said: “This said large parcel of land had in Suit Nos: SC/235/67 and SC/358/76 been confirmed by the Supreme Court to belong exclusively to us- the Idumugbe family”.
“We have given the government the airport, the Delta Development Property Agency (DDPA), the immigration office, civil defence lands known as Akwu-Ulo”
When contacted, Onianwa, said: “Delta State government had since acquired the land during former Governor Emmanuel Uduagha.
She said when the community paid deaf ears to the issue: “We did a memo to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, asking him to share the land with the community, and in his magnanimity approved it”.
But, for the Supreme Court judgments, the Commissioner declared: “Going by the Land Use Act, the land belongs to the government. So, let them be parading papers. There is no going back. We have settled that matter.”