From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
No fewer than 1000 people from Umueze Ogwugwu village in Oba community in Idemili South local government area of Anambra state took to the streets protesting the wanton destruction of their houses and farm lands by suspected land grabbers.
The protesters comprising the elderly men and women, youths and young people accused the developer of Oba International market, BUKHAM Nigeria limited and MICPAN company limited and its agents of encroaching into their home lands.
They bore placards with inscription such as “Anambra state government should come to our aid; land grabbers are demolishing our houses and farms, Umueze Ogwugwu village land is not for sale, land speculators should keep off, save our souls; MICPAN, BUKHAM and its agents want to sell our village land, Oba is boiling land grabbers are demolishing our house” among others.
The Chairman of Umueze Ogwugwu village Mr. Chuba Oranusi a lawyer said that it was three days ago some agents of MICPAN and BUKHAM company stormed their village with two Hilux loads of Navy personnels and two Hilux of mobile policemen fully loaded with arms who supervised the bulldozer that demolished their houses and farm lands.
He alleged that MICPAN and BUKHAM company left the land area where government gave them in 2001 to development international market under Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) and encroached into the village land to destroy their buildings and farms, laying claim to 138 hectares of village land.
“I want to appeal to the state government led by Prof Chukwuma Soludo to come to our aid because our houses and farms are being demolished on daily basis by MICPAN, BUKHAM company and one Sunny big man who claimed that our home land now belongs to them and now parceled it out and sold it at the sum of N10million.
“We woke up on Wednesday to see armed Navy and police personnel with sub machine gun and other weapons accompanying bulldozers that have been destroying our houses and farms without any challenge. The government of Chinweoke Mbadinuju in 2001 gave BUKHAM Nigeria limited 30 hectares to develop an international market which they built market structures and the remaining land were sold to drug distribution market and Aluminum market.
“They don’t have any other land left because the boundary is at a stream and they now cross the stream and start selling our land to the extent that they entered into our homes and started demolishing our houses, fences and destroying our farms. We are peace loving people that is why we are doing this peaceful demonstration to call our hardworking governor to help us and stop this land grabbers from destroying our homes” Oranusi appealed.
But, the managing director of MICPAN, a developer Mr. Mike Ebule denied all the allegations, saying that the company did not encroached into the village homes but pulled down the illegally built structures in their own land.
Ebule said that the state government through the Surveyor General office has the survey plan of the land and had visited the place to map out their own land. “We had also paid compensation for the land acquired and have titled documents given to us by the government who revoked the land ownership”.