From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
There has been jubilation in the entire community of Ubahumoerie village Isieke, Okija, in Ihiala local government area of Anambra State, following a court victory in a land matter that lasted 33 years, a large expanse of land at Utuogwe around Urasi River.
In a 41-page judgement that was delivered in the High Court of Aguata Judicial Division, Ekwulobia before his Lordship, Hon Justice CN Mbonu-Nwenyi in Suit No. 0/33/88, the Isieke Okija community members who were defendants in the land matter won the case against the plaintiffs, Umunkwo village, Ogbakuba in Ogbaru local government area of the state.
Reacting to the court victory, a community leader, Chief Ezinna Clement Nwokolo Ekwegbara, who said he was among six others who appeared as defendants in the legal tussle at the beginning, said out of six of them he was the only serving defendant as the rest died before the court judgement. He explained that he would not attribute their death to the land case ‘because I’m not God.’
The 88-year-old man said the land dispute lasted about seven years outside court before the plaintiffs sued them while they won the case 33 years after legal battle.
He said while the case was ongoing his community was planting, fishing and harvesting from the area in dispute and thanked God that there was no casualty from both sides before judgement was given in their favour. He assured that everybody would be carried along but would have to file behind those who fought the battle in court.
He appealed to Anambra State Government to assist the community to ensure that the judgement was executed to the fullest without any infringement.
One of the speakers from the same village, Chief Asuegwu Romanus, who was part of the success story, regretted that many of the community members kept their distance while the matter lasted in court. He said that all those who pursued the land case to a logical conclusion were ready to carry everybody along but insisted that those who failed to join when the matter was raging in court would queue behind those who fought ‘the war.’ He said the community would continue to use the land to the fullest ‘because nothing would restrain us.’
One of the Counsels who led the community to victory in the legal battle, LEM Danielson, Esq, attributed the legal victory to a combination of expertise and those he described as fantastic witnesses who were able to marshal out facts that assisted in prosecution of the land matter.
‘So, the law is there even though the law is not static because it keeps changing according to circumstances. The sole priority of any good court is to do justice in a matter before it.
‘Then also you talk about facts. Facts are presented by witnesses and a lawyer cannot be a witness in a matter that he is doing. So, we had very fantastic witnesses who were able to marshal out their facts before the court because it is not the lawyer that you will convince in a case but you convince the court,’ he said.