Two families, Anekeode and Obangene of Ibagwa Nike community in Enugu East local government area of Enugu state, are now trading words with their traditional ruler, Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu, over their communal land.
Some leaders of the two families have continued to protest against the traditional ruler and some officials of the state Ministry of Housing for allegedly ‘expropriating’ their land, which the monarch had denied, describing the protesters as gangsters whose sole job was land racketeering.
The royal father while denying the allegation that he colluded with state officials to confiscate and sell communal land, pleaded with the general public to discountenance the ‘protesters’ “who were bent on fomenting trouble in order to hide their illicit land transactions and scare government away from developing the community.”
Ugwu said the protesters were land grabbers who had over time sold and re-sold lands belonging to the state government and the community, adding that they embarked on the protest mission to create confusion and disturb the peace of the area having learnt that government was about to begin infrastructural development of the land it duly acquired from the community some years back.
While addressing newsmen in Enugu on Wednesday, on behalf of the families, Ngwu Ikenna and Kelvin Okwor, said the claims made by the Igwe about the state of things regarding the lands under contention, were false and misleading.
He said the claims were made to paint the larger population of Ibagwa Nike in bad light and to further empower the expropriators of their ancestral heritage to take over their land.
Last week, some members of the Anaekeode and Obangene families protested the supposed continuous land grab and called on the State Government to stop the planned demolition of their houses and farmlands.
The duo said Igwe’s claim that the five families inherited parcels of land was partly true.
“What he however failed to state, is that the parcels of land were shared and owned by families from time immemorial. If the Igwe wants a debate to determine the verity of this historical fact, he should identify a place and time and we will be available to permanently ensure he never tries to distort our history again.
“Let it be on record that the purported Power of Attorney which the Igwe is parading was the subject of a concluded Police Investigation. The Igwe and the individuals he has recruited to fulfill his selfishness and high-handedness, therefore, do not possess the locus standi to represent our families on any issue regarding our land,” they said.