…Committee sits over 72 cases within three days.
By Simeon OSAJIE
The Chairman, Edo State Private Property Protection Committee, Hon. Justice Alero Edodo-Eruaga (Rtd), has issued a warrant of arrest on Vincent A. Edo, Odionwere of Obazagbon for not appearing before the Committee to defend his role in the trespass and sale of land belonging to Sir Ephraim Ikponwosa Anyanru, former Registrar of the University of Benin.
“It tingle the ears that we cannot catch the person building on land legitimately acquired by another. We need to see the trespasser.”
Also in a prayer, Comrade Emmanuel Ademokun, former Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Edo State Chapter, was among 72 Edo indigenes and residents who have appeared within the week at the Committee’s sitting.
Comrade Ademokun has petitioned the Committee to help him recover part of his land encroached into by some elders of Uzebu Community.
“A part of my land was trespassed in and sold, with a lockup stall built within three months without anyone consulting with me.” Comrade Ademokun told the Committee today in Government House.
He stated that when he saw the structure, it was at foundation stage, and he made enquiries which pointed at the Okhaeghele as having leased the portion to one of the respondents, Mr. David Obiazikwor whom, he noted, built and occupied the stall and started a chemist and provision shop in it, despite all efforts by Ademokun to stop work.
The petitioner says his land is landlocked, and access to enter his building under construction blocked by the chemist store.
He therefore prays that the Committee should ask the trespasser to vacate his property.
Meanwhile, the Okhaeghele was absent at the Committee’s sitting today.
Responding, Messrs Roland Akenuwa and Samson Akenuwa, Odionwere and Secretary respectively of Uzebu Community agree that the land belonged to Ademokun and that there was access to enter his part of the land under construction and appealed for time to enable them deal with the issue.
Also in his response, David Obiazikpor told the Committee that he never knew the land belonged to anyone else apart from the Uzebu Community which he said leased the land to him for one year.
In his suggestions, Mr. Austin Agbonlahor, Assistant Inspector General of Police(Retired) and member of the Committee said, “The respondent who built the chemist shop was strategic, he was desperate to hold that space.”
Other members of the Committee made suggestions on the way forward.
For Dr. Olu Ayewoh, “We could look at the possibility of annexing the shop as part of the land owned by the petitioner and the chemist therefore becomes Ademokun’s tenant.”
Estate Surveyor (Elder) Julius O. Uhunamure however stated that it was unfortunate everything was illegally done.
The Honourable Justice Alero Edodo-Eruaga stated, “With the preponderance of evidence before the Committee, the Uzebu Community has encroached on Ademokun’s land.
“If we have to follow it stricto sensu, you have grabbed Mr. Ademokun’s land and should vacate it out rightly. You are both too old to go into custody, so we would only ask you to supervise the vacation of the said land.”
Counsel to the respondent, Chief Rotimi Ihensekhien however appealed for time, and pleaded with the Committee to impress it upon Comrade Ademokun to grant his client time to recoop fund expended in building the structure.
Hon. Justice Eruaga stated, “The Edo State Government is clear on this issue of land grabbing, and the essence is to give Justice to the people, that everyone gets their space while the communities enjoy peace.”
“While we think the young must grow, we cannot arbitrarily grant the wish of the one unleashing injustice and oppression or denying peace to the just.
“As soon as Ademokun finishes his building under construction, he would need his space.
“As it stands, he does not even have access to it, it has been blocked, he claims, and the documents, photos and survey papers before us do not show much. So, we are now worried about access, not just the matter of the illegal lease and occupation of part of the land.
“Let us go and see for ourselves if he could, for the time being, have access to continue his construction while we decide subsequently what to do with the chemist store already illegally built.” Justice Eruaga stated.
The matter has been adjourned till December 1, 2022.