From Wilson Okereke, Afikpo
Crisis is brewing in Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government, Ebonyi State, where the immediate past council chairman, Ms Oby Oko Enyim, was alleged to have encroached on a primary school land. The people and Enyim are said to be engaged in hot words over the latter’s alleged trespassing on the land belonging to Community Primary School, Ndukwe Amasiri.
The land was donated for the school construction by the people some decades ago. It was alleged that during Enyim’s tenure, entered the land without permission and constructed a large bungalow building in the said school compound.
Sources said the headmistress and teachers of the school were irked by the development. The headmistress, Mrs Uche Oko two teachers, Mr Amadi Sunday Ogbonnia and Mrs Margaret Oko, reported the matter to Local Education Authority (LEA).
A centenarian who is the oldest man in the community, Okorie Egwu Mgbo, told Daily Sun that the land was voluntarily given for the establishment of the school by some late elders of the community: “I am sounding it as a warning that the voice of the living ones is also the voice of the ancestors.
“On this note, Oby should take her hands off the property because the said land has been serving us as part of the legacies left behind by the forefathers.”
Coordinator of Amasiri Development Centre (ADC), Baron Oko, expressed shock that the former council boss got entangled in the land scandal. He disclosed that a similar incident happened in the past where another person whose name was not given encroached in the same property but through the intervention of some stakeholders, the alleged intruder was restrained from having access to the place.
He disclosed that Enyim was part of the stakeholders who deliberated on the issue and prevented the said intruder from trespassing. He added that the community has been peaceful until recently when these issues cropped up.
For the Ebonyi State chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), government must ensure that school property, especially land, are well protected. Its chairman, Egwu Francis Elechi, decried the rate at which people were allegedly encroaching on schools’ lands. He called on the Ministry of Education, Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) and Secondary Education Board (SEB), to provide a lasting solution to the problem by fencing the premises of schools:
“Some persons are taking undue advantage of the schools which are not fenced by encroaching into the premises. As I am speaking now, a lot of schools are in courts over similar cases. Even when it is against the law for someone to trespass on other person’s landed properly to erect personal structure.”
It was gathered that chairman of UBEB, Chief Hycainth Ikpor, looked into the matter and directed the alleged intruder to forfeit the structure erected there owing to the fact that the premises belongs to the school. He also issued directive for the return of the teachers allegedly transferred, while ordering that their seized salaries be paid on arrears.
Contacted on telephone, Enyim claimed that she bought the contentious portion of land from some members of a particular family in the community. She added that her claim could be verified from the Ministry of Education, Office of the Deputy Governor and the Ministry of Lands and Survey:
“The property that I bought is situated in my village which is Ihie Agbor, Amasiri. The owners are also alive. For further information, contact Ministry of Education or office of the deputy governor, I have no issue with UBEB.
“Also ask for the survey plan of the school. My building has no business with the said school and as such can’t forcefully impose my position on the school authority as you alleged. UBEB is under the Ministry of Education and they should work in synergy.”