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Family Petition Delta Government Over Unlawful Possession Of Land

.. Threatens To Institute Law Suit Against Okowa Failure To….
By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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The Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa-led government in Delta State is presently under siege, following a petition raised against the government for allegedly encroaching into a vast expanse of land along the Asaba-Benin Expressway.

The family of Chukwuedo Igwenwanne, Umuojeagu Quarters, Issele-Azagba, Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state petitioned the state government purported unlawful hijacking of their family lands which measured approximately 199, 516.39sq meters (about 19.952 hectares).

The family, in the petition revealed that they are the rightful owners of the parcels of land known and described as ‘Late Pa Gabriel Sunday Igwenwanne family land’ situate at Olinunu farmland along Asaba-Benin Expressway, Issele-Azagba.

According to the petitioner, the said land is bonded by Ukwumedua family land of Issele-Azagba, in the North, Idumu-Isor family land of Issele-Azagba in the South and Udemegwuna family land in the West.

Igwenwanne, disclosed that the family cultivated and planted various economic trees such as Palm trees, Cashews, Guava, Coconut, Agbono trees, Rubber trees, Bamboos, while hurt was erected on the land.

It was learnt that the family use some parts of the lands for seasonal farming of cassava and other varieties of crops in the assertion of their ownership and possession of the land in dispute.

He averred that they have been farming on the land from time immemorial and are still on the land as their only source of livelihood before the purported revocation of the rights of occupancy in respect of the part of the land in dispute by the state government.

According to the petitioner, they were surprised to stumble on a publication where the Delta State Government purportedly published a notice of Revocation of Rights of Occupancy in respect of part of the land in dispute measuring approximately 19.952 hectares of land shown in the survey Plan No: BJ/DT/Q2/108/2013 prepared by Surveyor Osakwe .E. Ogochukwu which the family rely on the Certified True Copy of the survey plan.

The petition contains that the State Government did not strictly observed and ensured compliance with the relevant provisions of the Land Use Act as to acquisition of land because they did not issue and serve a valid notice of revocation of the Igwenwanne family rights in respect of the land in dispute as required by section 44(a), (b) and (c) of the land use Act.

“The purported revocation of the Delta State Government deemed rights of occupancy in the land is invalid, null and void abinitio”, said Igwenwanne.

The family of Igwenwanne maintained that the Delta State Government has not paid any compensation for the acquisition of the disputed land, stressing that by reason of the failure to pay such compensation, a condition precedent to the validity of the acquisition has not been complied with and efforts made to the government rescind the said revocation proved abortive.

It was gathered that the family of the petitioner have suffered so much loss, damages and deprivation as a result of the actions of the Delta State Government.

The Government’s threat and intend to continue to deprive the family of Chukwuedo Igwenwanne of their interest and use of the land in dispute have prompted the alarm before Deltans.

On the part of the government, the Commissioner for Lands, Surveys and Urban Development, Hon. Chuka Ossai informed journalists that the Delta State Government did not acquire the land in Issele-Azagba unlawfully, “the truth of the matter was that the land was in dispute between two communities, Issele-Azagba and Ogwashi-Uku which in one of the State Executive Council meetings they decided to take possession of it to enable peace reign while the part that was not in dispute was released to the communities.

“In a revocation of Rights of Occupancy and payment of compensation in pursuance of section 28 of the land use act cap L5, LFN.2004 signed by the Governor of Delta State, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, stated that notice was given that the rights of occupancy in respect of all the parcel of lands along Asaba-Benin Express Road between Issele-Azagba in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State of Nigeria and Azagba-Ogwashi-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State which is required by the Government of Delta State for overriding public interest to wit: for public purpose within the Delta State was revoked”.

The survey description stated; “All that parcels along Asaba/Benin Express Road between Issele-Azagba in Aniocha North Local Government Area, Delta State of Nigeria and Azagba-Ogwashi-Uku in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State containing area of approximately 242.90 hectres have been revoked”.

Meanwhile, Igwenwanne family has vowed that if the Delta State Government fails to relinquish those parcels of land forcefully collected from them, they have no other option than to establish a suit in the law court against the Ifeanyi Okowa’s government.