Anambra Monarch, others on the run over N1Bn damages, Criminal trespass

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*30 soldiers, Obiano’s agents wanted by police over roles

From Chuks Collins, Awka
Nov 15, 2021

An Anambra traditional ruler, (name withheld) is reportedly presently on the run over what has been described as a criminal trespass and damages to a private property situated at Nteje/Awkuzu area of Oyi Council area of Anambra state belonging to a community leader in the area, Chief Sam Ikefuna of Awkuzu.

According to our investigations, Chief Ikefuna acquired the large parcel of land from Chief Felix Akpu(aka Mojo) in 20002.

Chief Akpu had according to the documents acquired it from the original bonafide ancestral owners from Ifite Nteje. It was consequently secured under the auspices of his Samzek Holdings Ltd with Headquarters in Warri, Delta State vide a Deed of Assignment executed in 2002.

The property also has an Agriculture Certificate of Occupancy dated February 1, 1993.

Ikefuna who spoke to reporters that besieged the expansive property overlooking the Enugu-Onitsha Federal Dual carriage way at the Nteje abattoir called Ogbo Onwumili land, of Ifite village Nteje yesterday after the invaders left said he acquired the land (about 9 hectares) in 2002 for agricultural purposes.

That he applied and got all the necessary papers and authorization, including a Certificate of Occupancy. That he has these past years never encountered any problem with anyone or authority over the land. Especially when he has been farming and was also carrying out fish-farming there. He showed journalists feeds for fish and other materials with which he has concluded arrangements to expand the fish-farming business there since he found out it was doing well. The farm-hands looked dejected as their employment now hang in the balance. One of them who gave his name simply as Paul lamented that they don’t even know how soon the matter would be settled for them to get back to work.

Ikefuna noted that he was therefore surprised when while on a business trip overseas one of his local aides called to alert him that some strange men stormed his premises overlooking the expressway on Sept 23, 2021. And he urged him to try to know exactly what they had come for. But instead of offering any explanation, they just went and marked on the wall, “Remove”.

Unexpectedly as they concluded the marking on the wall, their full convoy arrived in full force with two truckloads of menacing looking heavily armed soldiers, heavily armed masked mobile police officers, bulldozers, officers of the state-owned OCHA Brigade and Anambra State Urban Planning Department (ASUDEB)and some thugs, unannounced.

Only to be told by the intruders that there was a marking the previous day on the wall Sept 23, 2021 that the walls were to be removed or be pulled down by force.

He took time to take journalists round the length and breadth of the large property to see the intentional damages done to the whole walls he erected round it, including the now mangled gates.

Ikefuna wondered why the perpetrators used the bulldozers to further maliciously crush all the blocks after pulling the long walls down. That it was indication that the persons were determined.

He put the total cost of the damages at above One Billion Naira. These include the cost of the fences covering the entire land area which was approximately 9 hectares, three containers of imported heavy duty farm equipment, four buildings and two gates.

Eye witnesses described the situation that day as akin to a war zone movie. They just stormed the premises began to pull the walls, the fish ponds, houses and other structures down without any form of information other than the “remove” inscription on the wall which they wrote the previous day.

One of the occupants of the adjoining portion of land presently being used for moulding/sale of block and sale of cement who tried to inquire was viciously shoved aside. He fall down and was given matching orders never to near or talk to them.

Chief Ikefuna stated that after the hint from his aide, he quickly put a call to the Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in charge of Oyi Police Division seeking to know if he was in the picture of what was going on in his land, since it was just opposite the police station across the federal highway. The officer quickly got there and saw more than thirty heavily armed soldiers, and other armed personnel with three bulldozers smashing every structure standing on the land. They dug them up from the foundation and used the rollers of the bulldozers to crush all block and cement works there apparently to obliterate any evidence of buildings and walls there.

On arrival and inspection of the damages, Ikefuna quickly petitioned the Anambra State Government as well as the Police. This, he noted was to avoid any breakdown of law and order there.

He said that the way forward was for the state government, her agents and sponsors should pay for the whole damages, he would seek legal redress.

The chairman of ASUDEB, Barrister Chike Maduekwe confirmed that officers of the board carried out the demolition based on a directive from the state’s Commissioner for Lands. According to him, the commissioner had formally written to him asking that they go to recover the said land, that someone was encroaching on the State Government land. That it was based on that message that his men embarked on the demolition and recovery exercise.

Further investigation at the State’s Physical Planning office in Awka and the Oyi Council Headquarters at Nteje revealed that the soldiers, policemen, and other agents of the state government were procured by a notable traditional ruler in the area. That he was well known to be deep in land speculation and grabbing. That he was previously into contracts execution but has for sometime now been out of business and now indulge in grabbing people’s lands and quickly selling same off.

It was also discovered that he has put many army and police officers’ careers in jeopardy for using them in illegal and extraneous civil matters meant to harass, intimidate and force one to abandon his right. On the present issue, a source at the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha hinted that those found to be involved in the Awkuzu/Nteje land matter may be cashiered from the service, while the police authorities have suspended action against their officers till after the state governorship election coming up on Saturday, November 6,2021. But the petition forwarded to the Police Department, Zone 13 command is already receiving attention. The traditional ruler has been invited but has not reported. The officers of the state Physical Planning Department have been reluctant in reporting to the police for statement, fearing they may be detained or attacked by the property owners due to the extensive damages they wrought on his premises, since there would be no soldiers or armed personnel to protect him while going or returning. But so far, Ikefuna, eyewitnesses and others nearby who witnessed the invasion have given their statements.

A serving judicial officer in the state whose duly allocated plot of land was manipulated away at a time with forged documents with the full connivance of top officials of the state government in the Ministry of Lands but was recovered after she put up a serious fight told our reporter that the fraud was becoming rampant.

She cautioned that things would get even worse as the administration of Gov Willie Obiano begins to wind down. That unscrupulous officials in the Surveys Department, Physical Planning Department, as well as the records Department in the Ministry of Lands often use this period of transition from one regime to another to perpetrate atrocious acts. That they mutilate, hide and muddle up land records for their selfish aims and purposes.

She vowed to jail any government official that was found to be involved in such misdemeanor who is brought before her court.

Curiously, while this investigation was going on, some officials of the state Urban Planning Department backed by some scruffy looking thugs that were armed with clubs and other dangerous weapon stormed the adjoining lands again measuring and mapping out portions of land, apparently with a view to sell or might have already sold them. It would be worthwhile to highlight here that these so-called Urban Planning Department officials were tele-guided to mark and demolish all the buildings and adjoining portions of land overlooking Ikefuna’s property.

It took the quick intervention of one of the senior officers to save the situation. The officer, names withheld was reportedly vehement in his refusal to demolish any structure with out authorization from higher quarters. So when he allegedly put a call through to the Board chairman, Barrister Maduekwe who stopped them from performing anything untoward.

This consequently shows that the Department’s officials oftentimes get bought over by unscrupulous persons to carry out illegal and unauthorized demolition, hiding under the cover of government assignment.

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