Fred Itua, Abuja
Two towns in Enugu State, Amechi and Obeagu Awkunanaw, in Enugu South LGA, have appealed to the state government to step in and address the alleged illegal acquisition of 1,097 hectares of land by one Mr Kingsley Eze.
The community leaders, angry over a prolonged battle to reclaim their ancestral lands, say that the land in question is reportedly earmarked for the construction of the permanent site of Enugu State University of Science and Technology.
There has been a myriad of suits and countersuits between Amechi and Obeagu communities against Mr Eze and his company, Private Estates International West Africa Ltd, on the one hand, and between the communities and the Enugu State Government on the other.
A community leader, Ozor Joseph Nnaji, who spoke on behalf of the two towns, raised some posers. He contended, among other things, that the acquisition of the land is fraudulent
“The so-called 1985 ‘Enugu State University of Science and Technology’ (Plan EN(A)594), purported to have been made in 1985 is unreal, invalid and could not really have been made in 1985 because Enugu as a state was created in 1991 and there couldn’t have been an ‘Enugu State University’ preceding its creation,” Nnaji said.
“Both the purported 1985 Enugu State University of Science and Technology (PLAN EN(A)594) and the so-called Anambra State of Nigeria Official Gazette No.12 Vol. II of 27th March 1986 is unreal, invalid and was possibly fabricated in 2009.
“Since these documents did not have the signature of the then Governor of Anambra State, Sampson Omeruo, all such documents being paraded are invalid, null and void.
“Any purported acquisition, title, agreement and or Certificate of Occupancy made and or predicated on the purported 1985 Enugu State University of Science and Technology (PLAN EN(A)594) when, as it were, Enugu State was not in existence, is invalid, null and void as you can’t hang something on nothing and expect it to stand,” he argued.
A middle-aged member of the community, Paulinus Eze, said the controversial allocations are fraudulent.
“How could a man who claims to be on a mission to empower a people be the one who has impoverished us in this way? The land should revert to the communities who were the real custodians,” he said.
According to him, it is preposterous to come to terms with “this barefaced roguery of an Agbaja man having the effrontery to move into the Nkanu heartland, take our traditional patrimony and be parcelling and selling away same to enrich himself and his masters while the original owners pine away in penury.”
He insisted that it is not enough for the Enugu state government to revoke the land. “The only justice in it is to formally return same to the Obeagu and Amechi communities, otherwise it would amount to doing away with a sacred cow and having it replaced with a sacred donkey,” he stated.
Reacting, Mr Eze said the state government was in a better position to explain the issues surrounding the controversial acquisition. He said since the land in question has already been revoked by the government, there was nothing he could do.
“There are processes in the acquisition of land. You gazette and do all of that. The land was allocated around 1986 and you’re coming back to contend that it was done illegally after over 30 years? How do I even respond to that?” he asked.