From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Residents of Oghede Community in Ovia North-East, Edo State, staged a protest on Monday, accusing the Nigerian Army, Ekenwan Barracks, of demolishing over hundred houses in the community.
The demonstrators carried placards with bore such inscriptions as: “Government help us from the hands of Nigerian Army”, “Destroying our building is an abomination in Edo land, “Please leave us in peace,” among others.
Addressing reporters, the leader of the protesters, Chief Felix Aghahowa said the land rightfully belongs to them and that they have valid documents to show that they were living in the community before the army barracks in Ekenwan was built.
He alleged that the army has taken over their lands, chasing people out of their houses, adding that they could no longer go to their farms.
‘We can no longer sleep with two eyes closed as a result of the army invasion into the community. Many of us are rendered homeless.’
He called on Edo Government, the Federal Government and other relevant authorities to come to rescue them from the hands of the Army.
Responding, the spokesperson, 4th Brigade, Nigerian Army Benin City, Yemi Sokoya, denied the allegation.
‘The land in question is army land, but the community keep selling the land to civilians and building on the land even after several warnings. The Army took them to court and the court order that nobody should continue work on the land pending the determination of the matter.’
He said instead of allowing the court to do its work, they are encroaching deep into the barracks and rushing to the media with lies.
‘It is not by protesting or rushing to the media branding the army as a wicked organisation but allowing the court to do their job. We are waiting patiently for the verdict,’ he said.