As incidents of land grabbing continue to rise in Benin City, the palace of the Oba of Benin has condemned the practice following complaints from various affected persons, which come to the palace on daily basis.
The palace condemnation came through the Benin Traditional Council public announcement read out to the press on the directives of the Oba, Ewuare II, represented by Chief Henry Osato Bazuaye, the Aiwerioghene of Benin kingdom.
The palace said the public announcement is to clarify the issue surrounding the recent incident at Ukhiri village in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State.
He said land grabbing in Benin City and environs has reached an alarming proportion as individuals and corporate owners of vacant land often see their property encroached upon and sold off by unscrupulous community youths
Chief Aiwerioghene said the land grabbers sell other peoples’ land knowing full well that their action is illegal and again the purchasers are also often aware they are purchasing other peoples’ land illegally.
He said, “The land grabbers and the illegal purchasers argue that once a structure is hurriedly erected on the illegal acquired property, the Palace of the Oba of Benin forbids such property to be brought down and for this reason, the practice of grabbing and developing other peoples’ property has reached such an unacceptable dimension this practice must stop”.
He pointed out that in Ukhiri village, the case of land grabbing was taken to unprecedented heights, as the community leader, the Enogie of Ulegun physically attacked the neighbouring community of Ukhiri and annexed their lands. The Enogie of Ulegun and the youths then proceeded to sell off land of other people and corporate bodies located in Ukhiri Including land that is known to belong to the Palace.
Chief Aiwerioghene further explained that, the palace is inundated with cases of land grabbing by victims who come to seek redress and in most cases, peoples’ farmlands are invaded and sold off to willing accomplices.
He added that in a current case, some youths in Ogheghe community destroyed the perimeter fence of a church land belonging to Christ Embassy and proceeded to sell off the plots of land; the palace has strongly condemned this action towards Christ Embassy.
He used the occasion to thank and encourage the state government to do more in arresting this unsavouring behavior of grabbing other peoples land and leaving the victims with no form of compensation or respite.
Chief Aiwerioghene asserted that several parcels of land belonging to the palace have been taken over by land grabbers adding that, the recent incident at Ukhiri happened because of the impunity of the Enogie and youths of Ulegun as well as illegal buyers who typically built up structures hurriedly to avoid the law.
He reiterated the palace’s condemnation of the practice of land grabbing as it is against the culture of Benin City.
“The Palace regards land grabbing at the rate which it is going as akin to domestic terrorism and kidnapping. The only difference is they are kidnapping and terrorizing the lawful owners which can lead to communal crisis and breach of peace.
“This system of land grabbing is a reconstruction form of the outlawed Community Development Association (CDA) notorious activities, which will not be condoled. The palace enjoins the public to peacefully resist domestic terrorism in any form,” he stated.
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