May 20, 2024

Community Accuses AIG Zone 5 Of Thwarting Commissioner’s Peace Moves

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By Simeon OSAJIE

The people of Agho-Ozomu Village in Ovia North-East local government area of Edo State has alleged that the AIG Zone 5 has decided to thwart the efforts of Commissioner of Police, State Police Command at ensuring that justice prevails between people of Agho-Ozomu and people of Igbobi Communities over the ownership of land property.

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Speaking on behalf of the community, Pastor Festus Asayemwenre Egharevba appealed to Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the executive governor of Edo State, and His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, Oba of Benin Kingdom to intervene on the matter as the people of Agho-Ozomu Community will not continue to allow the people of Igbobi destroy their farm crops and continue to sell their land.

The protesters with different inscription, like “Save Our Lives And Properties: Agho-Ozomu Is An Autonomous Community,” “Our Farms Are Gone”. A Benin Man Is Not A Slave To Another”, “Where Is The Law On Land Grabbers?”, We Are Prepared To Defend Our Right”, “Igbobi People Are Violent”, “4 Months Of Attacks”, “Igbobi Leave Our Lands”, were at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists to register their displeasure over AIG Zone 5 action.

According to Pastor Egharevba, while the Edo State Commissioner of Police will do the right thing by investigating the facts of ground to the detriment old Igbobi, the AIG zone 5 will thwart the Command’s gallant efforts and stagnates justice. “This repeated actions of the AIG Zone 5 have given people assailants the audacity to continue destroying our properties with impunity, and reckless abandon.”

He added that Agho-Ozomu community had lived peacefully with the later settlers, Urhobos and Ukwuanis, going about their activities and paying royalties to the Binis until sometime in 2010 when the news came that the people of Igbobi sold Agho-Ozomu’s land to Benson Idahosa University without the knowledge, cooperation or permission of the people of Agho-Ozomu. The development, he said was effectively checked through robust legal activities and the institution was frustrated out of the deal even though Igbobi and their conspirators had received large financial rewards.

“However, the issue became notorious when the people of Igbobi attempted to make physical incursions into Agho-Ozomu’s farmlands in an area spanning about four kilometres apart from both communities having oversold their land to individual and corporate developers. When our resistance could not yield much fruits as a result of constant violent means, Agho-Ozomu representatives went to the High Court, Okada in Suit No. HCOK/12./2018 to follow normal civilized mode for legal redress.

“Instead of the court suit making Igbobi to see reason and act like people living in the 21st century, they astonishingly resorted to further brigandage by continuing to apply the force of violence through the use of firearms and other dangerous weapons. Many of our people have been severely wounded, attempted murder and great losses of farms including but not limited to oil palm and rubber plantations, cassava, plantain, cocoyam. Criminal cases have gone against them from the Divisional level to the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja.

“In an unbelievable manner, the people of Igbobi went beyond measure when in January 2024 they mobilized soldiers, vigilante and hired thugs and attacked Agho-Ozomu village in an invasion style. They ruthlessly planted soldiers in our village to deter the residents against any form of resistance while putting the bulldozer to use demolishing large proportions of palm plantations. In the process of creating layouts in a hitherto serene and agricultural inclined community, mature cassava, plantains and other crops were destroyed,” he said.

While emphasizing that Agho-Ozomu Community regularly produces up to two truck-loads (about 60 tons) of fried garri weekly over 5000 jerry cans of palm oil, Pastor Egharevhe said the village supply the popular Evbotubu, Benin City, Iguobazuwa and Delta State foodstuff markets.

He regretted that the community has been under siege for the past four months and Igbobi with their co-voyagers of violent men have dispossessed the people of their inheritance, left them without their age-long occupation and forcefully possess the land.

In conclusion, secretary of the community, Pastor Egharevba said the people of Agho-Ozomu Community decided to engage by this open protest informing the entire world that the people of Igbobi have overstepped their bounds, as there is a LIMIT to human tolerance. “So we are by this PROTEST serving the last warning to all and sundry that the people of Agho–Ozomu community will no longer fold their arms and watch the uncivilized people of Igbobi destroy our ancestral legacies and obliterate us from the map of Nigeria. A stitch in time saves nine!”

Reacting to the allegation levelled against the AIG Zone 5 Benin when The9jaTREND put a call across to the Zone 5 Police Public Relations Officer DSP Tijani A. Momoh agreed that he is aware of the protest and debunked the allegation.

DSP Tijani said the AIG Zone 5 cannot thwart the Commissioner’s efforts at ensuring that justice prevails between the two communities.

According to Tijani, “Agho-Ozomu Community alleged that their neighbouring community, Igbobi sold their land to Benson Idahosa University (BIU); they approached BIU and they are still selling their land, and they reported them to the Commissioner of Police and they were arrested and are about to charge to court, and they now wrote to the AIG Zone 5 Benin.

“What they did is what anybody is empower to do under the eye of the law. The matter is being held under Magistrate court. At the end, if they don’t abide by the judgement, they are entitle to appeal until the matter get to the Supreme Court.

“The police also have various level of administration to ensure that justice is done. If somebody feel that he is not happy with the way his matter is being handle at a lower police station, he can write to the higher authority for transfer of the case.”

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