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Published On: Wed, Feb 19th, 2014

Delta: Urhobo Indigenes Accuses Army of High Impunity, Demand Return of Unused lands

Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Azubike Ihejirika

LAGOS FEBRUARY 19TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The people of Uvwie Kingdom in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State have accused men and officers of the Nigerian Army, 3rd Battalion Effurun of operating under high impunity and illegality against the people of the kingdom, even as they raised alarm that several of their houses including graves and religious houses have been marked for demolition.
They also condemned in its entirety what they alleged the selling of their land by the Nigerian Army to Shoprite, a world class eatery centre for one billion naira.
At a press briefing calling on the Federal Government to swiftly intervene, Chief Victor Otomiewo, Former Delta State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice who spoke on behalf of the people of Uvwie Kingdom demanded an immediate release of unused and undeveloped lands earlier given to the federal government for the establishment of the military base.
Uvwie people alleged that without Federal government knowledge, officers of the Nigerian Army are leasing out land supposedly acquired for public purposes, a situation they lamented that is unacceptable to the kingdom.
Chief Otomiewo at the briefing accused the army officers of invading three communities of Ohorhe1, Ohorhe 11 and Oku-Irero all within the kingdom on Febuary 13 and 18, 2014, saying that such act was not only barbaric and condemnable, but could threatened the existing peace in the kingdom.
He stressed that, “they are further assaulting, threatening arrest and/or detention of the Uvwie natives who are the bonafide owners of the landed properties and promises. In short, the army as at today in conjunction with men of the Nigerian Navy had constituted themselves into occupational forces in Uvwie land.”
According to him, “specifically since the 13th day of February, 2014, armed soilders from the Effurun Baracks had laid siege on Ohorhe Communities where they have since been harassing innocent indigenes, marking residential, commercial and religious houses for demolition under the guise that these structures were built on land belonging to the Nigerian Army.
“Naval officers are deployed daily to allocate Uvwie land along Refinery Road to rent paying tenants and markets which traditionally and by the constitution ought to be exclusive revenue generation for the Uvwie Local Government Council.”
Chief Otomiewo also faulted the Delta State Police Commissioner and demanded that it handover to the Ekpan people what he described illegally constructed Shopping Complex on the land surrounding the Police Barracks in Ekpan.
He explained that although issues relating to the acquisition of the lands were still under litigation, “men of the Nigerian Army without the knowledge of the Federal government are leasing out lands supposedly acquired (without the payment of adequate compensation) for public purposes, to private persons at multi-million naira fees whilst the Uvwie land owners are dying in misery and poverty.”
They demanded that the Federal Government ordered “the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the army of occupation from all the undeveloped and/or illegally occupied land of my people, especially the ones marked down for demolition in Ohorhe communities.
“That the Federal Government returns to the Uvwie people all the unoccupied and undeveloped portions of their land which the men of the Nigerian Army and Navy are presently plundering.”
While responding to a question, Chief Otomiewo told journalists to go and asked the promoters of Shoprite Complex currently under construction in Uvwie land who their landlords is, adding that the land was allegedly sold for about N1 billion by the Ministry of Defence and no kobo was remitted to the owners of the lands who were forcibly ejected
He challenged the Defence Ministry to make public names of their tenants and revenue collected since the land was acquired from the Uvwie people.

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