Posted by News Express | 10 July 2017 | 2,809 times
The N35 billion pilot phase of the National Housing Programme (NHP) in Delta State is being threatened as the host community, Issele Azagba in Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state has alleged that government is undermining their rights of occupancy of the land, which traditionally belongs to their ancestors.
In an effort to provide affordable housing for Nigerians, the Federal Government had announced in February plans to construct 5,000 units of houses in each state over the next three years.
Last December 8, the Delta State Government published a notice titled ‘Revocation of Rights of Occupancy and Payment of the Compensation therefore in Pursuant of Section 28 of the Land Use Act. Cap L5, 2004’ in The Pointer newspaper. The government notified all parties concerned that that it required the parcel of land along Asaba-Agbor Expressway between Issele Azagba and Azagba Ogwashi “for overriding public interest." It therefore revoked the rights of occupancy on the land.
In response to the government notice, the entire family of late Mr. Gabriel Sunday Igwenwanne of Umuojeagu quarters, Ikem village in Issele Azagba, Aniocha North of Delta State, who claims the rights of occupancy of the parcel of land mapped out for the first phase of the project, wrote to the state Commissioner of Lands, Survey and Urban Development in Asaba through the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, stating their statement of interest.
In the letter dated January 9, 2017, the Igwenwanne family, while attaching a copy of the survey plan and certificate of lodgement, quoted the plan number as BJ/DT/02/108/2013, and explained that the plan was prepared by the Registered Surveyor, Osakwe E. Ogochukwu and that the location was properly mapped out, surveyed and lodged, measuring approximately 199, 516379 square metres.
According to the family, the said land is the source of the family’s livelihood and sustenance, in that it has been in use for food production and source of the family income from time immemorial.
In addition, the family said that in exercise of their rights of ownership of the land, various economic cash crops such as palm trees, cashew, guava, coconut, agbono trees, amongst others were cultivated. In some portions of the land, Igwenwanne family also stated that they cultivated other crops such as cassava, yam, maize and other food crops.
A spokesperson of the Late Mr. Gabriel Sunday Igwenwanne family, Mr. Chukwuedo Igwenwanne told journalists that the family has been thrown into confusion since the state government moved into their land as all their economic crops had been destroyed.
The spokesman expressed surprise that, “Without any compensation, sometime in March 2017 some people allegedly sent by the government stormed our land in dispute which has not been compensated for with bulldozers and other heavy duty machines and started destroying and bulldozing our bamboo trees, rubber trees, guava trees, cashew trees, mango and other economic trees including subsisting crops on our family land. The said agents and workmen were guarded by heavily armed military officers who would not allow us access our farmland.”
Igwenwanne lamented that the manner in which the government took over their family land and allegedly destroyed their economic trees and crops was wrong adding that “it cannot be for any public purpose or overriding public interest greater than their investments on the farmland.”
Igwenwanne pointed out that his family had approached the government to stop its action to enable them work together, according to the law of the land, but the government allegedly ignored the family.
With a large family made up of many sub families comprising of hundreds of children and great grandchildren, Igwenwanne stated that except the little space of land where the family members occupy in their ancestral home in Issele Azagba community, there is no alternative land for the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to inhabit since a portion of this expanse of land had been mapped out and proposed for their habitation.
The Igwenwanne family said they had suffered a great loss and deprivation on the land as a result of the actions of the state government.
Apart from Igwenwanne family, the entire community had in February this year, also taken the state government to the High Court in the Issele Uku Judicial Division. While the case was still pending, the state government allegedly moved workmen to site.
Efforts made to reach the state Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Development, Mr Chika Ossai proved abortive as calls made to him were not answered and text messages sent was not responded to.
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