May 20, 2024

Land Tussle: Group solicits EDSG, Benin Monarch’s Intervention

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By Simeon OSAJIE

The Ifesowapo, Yoruba Butchers Union, Benin City, Edo State has cried out soliciting the intervention of the Edo State Government, Benin Monarch, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II and relevant authorities in a land tussle between them and the people of Iyowa Village in Ovia North-East Local Government Area of the state.

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While appealing, the group narrates how in 2011 a land measuring 200×200 was sold to them by the people of Iyowa Village.

According to the Union, after the deal was sealed, signed and delivered, trouble started when a neighbouring village, Ora claimed ownership of the land.

Subsequently, the matter led to a legal tussle at the State High Court in which the people of Ora won, also at the Appeal Court.

Left with no option thereafter, the group demanded that the people of Iyowa gives them another land in replacement of the earlier one sold to them, or their money be refunded.

In response, a land measuring 150×400 was given by the elders but allegedly, the Odionwere Pa. Samson Obazee is putting a wedge claiming ignorance of the transaction turned sour.

However, the Union have taken further step to involving the Police authority which have invited Pa. Obazee for questioning.

According to one of the elders of Iyowa, Festus Igbinawahia; “it was not ambassador Joseph Etionsa  Ighodaro or any other person who is responsible for the police invitation of the Odionwere, but the Ifesowapo Yoruba Butchers Union.

“The Police have invited everyone involved in the land transaction to a meeting on the 10th of January, 2023.

“Severally, all of us here have been arrested; I in particular had spent six days in the Police cell in regards of the land transaction.

“We were working on behalf of Iyowa Village during the out – law CDA era but unfortunately the transaction failed leading to Court ligation between the people of Ora with whom we had boundary, and the Butchers’ Union.

“The sitting Odionwere, Pa. Obazee was number four in the ranking when the transaction was done, and  one of those who represented the Village in Court”, Igbinawahia said.

Going further, Igbinawahia added: “after the Butchers lost in Court, they came demanding the sum of N25m as restitution or an alternative land be given.

“Following directives of the Police, the Odionwere was asked to facilitate the release of an alternative land, but he declined denying ignorance of any transaction with the Butchers as he was only prevailed upon to represent the Village in Court,” he alleged.

Igbinawahia pointed out that it was not Ambassador Etionsa Ighodaro who was responsible for the arrest of Odionwere Obazee as being wrongly insinuated in some quarters adding, that he was not even around during the arrest.

In the narration, Chairman of the Butchers Union, Trimizu Alamu said: “after they paid for the land, elders of Iyowa Village asked that “we should settle them before work can commence.

“Through the sitting Odionwere, Pa Obazee, we paid the sum of N100,000 to the elders, another N100,000 and a carton of wine to the then Odionwere, who is a brother to the present one.

“Sooner than we began working on the land, the neighbouring Village of Ora came claiming ownership of the land and we eventually ended in Court.

“But unfortunately, we lost the case both at the State High Court and Appeal Court. During the legal battle, the sitting Odionwere, Pa. Obazee and Etionsa Ighodaro represented Iyowa Village.

“When we demanded thereafter that another land be given to us or the money spent be refunded, the people of Iyowa Village began to dribble us.

“This is why we contacted the Police to invite the Odionwere and had scheduled a meeting for all the parties involved in the transaction.

We are however by this medium appealing passionately to the Edo State Government, Benin Monarch, HRM Oba Ewuare II and all related authorities to come to our rescue.”

Counsel to the Butchers Union, Olalude Abayomi corroborated the narrative of all those who have spoken.

He brandished a document showing the name of the sitting Odionwere Pa Obazee as one of the signatories to the approval of the land transaction with the Butchers Union.

“So for Odionwere Obazee to say he does not know anything about that land, is the most absurd thing I have heard.

“The Odionwere was not just a witness to the matter but he was a party in the substantive case. He was the sixth defendant, he had a statement on oath, written, and endorsed and filed in the High Court which formed part of the processes that were used in Court.

“At some point in the matter, a land measuring 150×400 was given to my clients as compensation.

“But information reached us that the Odionwere is putting stumbling blocks to the release of the land.

“This came as a sad development and it formed the basis for the petition and eventual invitation of Odionwere Obazee by the Police.

“Is he saying my clients are not entitled to that land? A transaction he participated so why is he now constituting a stumbling block instead of finding a solution?” he asked.

However, efforts to get to the Odionwere for response as at the time of filing this story, was not successful.

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