Tony Osauzo, Benin
Disputes arising from ownership of land have been major causes of communal clashes between communities and it will continue to be so, unless the various communities in Nigeria learn to co-exist in the spirit of brotherliness, give-and-take, knowing that killings over ownership of land are unnecessary, as all will die and leave the land behind in the end.
In Edo State, communal clashes over ownership of land is fast becoming the order of the day. The most recent clash was the one between Amagba in Oredo Local Government Area and Oke-Aroma in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area in which properties were destroyed and some lives were allegedly lost.
Even as the dispute is yet unresolved, another impending communal clash over ownership of land is brewing between the people of Iguomon community and neighbouring Ikhuonbo community in Uhunwonde Local Government Area of Edo State.
Already, Iguomon community and members of the organised civil society have given a 14-day ultimatum to the appropriate authorities to end the killings and banditry in the area or they will resort to self-defence.
Addressing journalists, the aggrieved Iguomon people, consisting of elders and youths, asked the people of neighbouring Ikhuonbo community to respect the Supreme Court judgment of February 3, 2006, in a suit with reference number: SC/194/2001, which gave ownership of the large expanse of land on Benin-Agbor Road to Iguomon community.
Spokesman for Iguomon and the organised civil society, Emmanuel Agbogun, disclosed that petitions on the matter had earlier been sent to Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki; Chief Judge and Attorney-General of Edo State, as well as security agencies, without any action yet.
“We strongly express our dissatisfaction over the continuous disregard of the Supreme Court judgment, delivered on February 3, 2006, relating to land and boundary dispute between Iguomon and Ikhuonbo communities, which was brought before the state high court, Abudu, in 1976, where Iguomon people won, with appeal filed by Ikhuonbo community, which was again lost and Ikhuonbo people also lost at the apex court.
“A warrant of possession was issued to Iguomon community by Edo State Ministry of Justice in 2016. Since then, the people of Ikhuonbo have created resistance to Iguomon people in possessing their land and they have killed three of our people. The trend has now set an example to other communities that the court process in Nigeria is only to create more paper documents for parties before it.
“Attorney-general and the Chief Judge of Edo State should rise up and uphold the judicial process on the land, with the use of relevant instruments and institutions of the state, before lawlessness becomes the order of the day. Edo governor should also ensure the protection of life and property in Iguomon community,” he said.
The Iguomon community also warned individuals and corporate organisations who might have bought their (Iguomon’s people) land to know that the transactions were illegal,
Besides, it advised those planning to buy their land from Ikhuonbo people to desist forthwith or be ready to face dire consequences.