The Ogwugwu/Umueze in Oba communities, has called on the governor of the state to intervene in the wrong demolition of their properties by a construction company, Bukham Nigeria Limited, who mobilised security officials and hoodlums to use bulldozers to demolish 70 buildings and structures on farmlands in the community.
The residents, who were angered by the development, staged a demonstration and appealed to the state Governor, Chukwuma Soludo during a protest with inscription on placards ‘Save our soul’, our land is not for sale’, ‘Land grabbers are demolishing our homes’, among others.
Speaking during the protest, the community chairman, Chuba Oranusi, said a deceased traditional ruler ceded some hectares of land to the state government for the construction of an international market in 2003 and a former Governor, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, awarded the construction of the market to the Bukham Nigeria Limited.
He said since 2003, the company did not embark on the project, adding that a few weeks ago, the company’s representatives led security officials to the community and started using bulldozers to pull down houses and farmlands.
Oranusi said, “In 2003, our late monarch allocated a portion of the community land to the then state government for the construction of an international market and the government awarded the land to the Bukham Nigeria Limited to construct it but it did not commence the project in 2003.
“To our surprise, a few weeks ago, they came with bulldozers, soldiers, police, armed thugs, among others, and started encroaching on lands which were not initially ceded to them and demolished buildings and fences on the land.
For four days now, they have continued the encroachment and demolition of structures. Most of us have become homeless and have nowhere to run to. Let them just develop the portion that was given to them and stop encroaching on our lands.
“We also gathered that they are making plans to start selling our land N5m per plot and any community member who resists them gets beaten up for questioning their mission. We urge Governor Chukwuma Soludo to come to our rescue as we have been rendered homeless and they still continue the encroachment.”
The Vice Chairman, Emeka Motanya, said the company was demolishing property beyond the portion of land allocated to it for the construction of the market.
A woman leader in the community, Uchenna Obaye, said people’s means of livelihood were destroyed during the invasion.
“We are calling on the state government to come to our rescue before the situation snowballs into a full blown war in the community,” Obaye said.
Reacting, the spokesperson for the company, Mike Egbule, said the company never went beyond the portion of land allocated to it.
Egbule said, “What we are doing is to recover the portion of land they encroached upon. We have the master plan of the land and the team of surveyors were with us to ensure we only recovered our land.
“We have no business with the communities; if they feel aggrieved, they should meet the state government who gave us the land to develop.
“The reason there are security operatives around the community is to guard against the breakdown of law and order and to prevent any attack on our men doing their work.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Tochukwu Ikenga, in his reaction, said, “There is no such report before me please and we are not aware that security operatives chased away protesters at Oba community.”