Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The Umunnengene Family, Isiagu Umuaniabor Amechi Awkunanaw in Enugu South Local Government of Enugu State, has made a passionate appeal to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi not to make them homeless.
They are equally calling on stakeholders in the state to appeal to the state government to leave the only small portion of land left for them and their children by their ancestors so that they do not become refugees in their fatherland.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday in Enugu the executive of the family led by the Chairman, Jeremy Onah, lamented that the state government after taking their large expanse of land which it named HELIU Estate about four years ago had come back to take the only remaining land (Obadaka) of the family which is 22 plots situated opposite HELIU Estate at the other side of the expressway.
Onah, who was surrounded by Cyril Ogbodo, secretary; Emma Ugwuogbue, financial secretary; Afam Ogbodo PRO and others during the briefing, said taking away the remaining small portion of land from them would amount to rendering them refugees without war or natural disaster.
His words: “What we want the press and the world to know is that the government of Enugu State came and took our Aka Ana (land) said it has acquired it. We the family owners of the land do not know of such acquisition and we were not consulted, only for us to see government agents in our land parcelating it.
“You know that in 2015 our family members were arrested because of the killing in the land at the other side of the express which the governor took over and called HELIU Estate. We were held in detention for a year and six months and God saw us through as we were prosecuted and the court found us innocent of the crime, discharged and acquitted us.
“While we are still praying that God will touch him to return our land at HELIU Estate, he crossed over to this little portion of land that is the only one left for us and our children at Obadaka across the express and took it, that government has acquired it without consulting us and gave it to Ugo Chime to develop.
“They came with some trucks of security operatives, including police to parcelate the land and gave it to HELIU, which is currently selling our land at N10 million per plot, our land was taken by the governor without any consultation and or our consent and not in public interest.
“We have been crying and appealing to him to leave our land for us, he can make inquiry because that is the only land remaining for us, but he refused.
“We went to the Government House on Thursday and pleaded with him, he brought out the C of O (Certificate of Occupancy) he gave to Ugo Chime and showed it to me and I asked him, you are the maker and giver of the C of O, as a governor, is it lawful for you to go and take someone’s land and give C of O to someone else to sell without informing or consulting the owner of the land? Is there no more laid down process for acquiring land by the government? This is our plight and we are begging the governor to see reason to leave our land for us and not make us homeless and refugees.
“It should be noted that when HELIU was taken, we wrote to Ministry of Lands demanding to be given the survey of the area government took and we were given Certified True Copy and this Obadaka land was not part of it.
“This land in question is 22 plots, we surveyed it and it is registered in the Lands Ministry, it was also shared among the members of the family while some plots were leased out.
“People had built there and fenced the place but on 18th June, 2019, one Christian Ogbodo went there with bulldozer and pulled down all the structures there claiming that government sent him. We petitioned to the police in Awkunanaw, and there Ogbodo denied that it was not him, but Vitus Okechi the then Commissioner Youth and Sports and Commissioner for Housing.”
When contacted, the Commissioner for Housing, Vitus Okechi, who was mentioned by the family as the government official that came into the land with bulldozer, said that land issues are not in his portfolio.
He asked Sunday Sun to reach the Commissioner for Lands for information about the land and government reaction, adding that the Lands Commissioner comes from the same area with complainants.
However, attempts to reach the Lands Commissioner before press time was unsuccessful as his GSM was not reachable.