From Paul Osuyi, Asaba 

Youths of Idumu-Ogbe village in Asaba, Delta State capital have raised the alarm over alleged demolition of their property by people suspected to be acting on the orders of the state Commissioner of Lands and Survey, Mrs. Kate Onianwa.

The aggrieved youths alleged that Onianwa was using her powers as commissioner to dispossess them of the land measuring over 100 hectares, in order to cede the same to their neighbours in Umuodafe, Ibusa, where she hails from.

Chairman of Idumu-Ogbe youths, Michael Ezeanya, while lamenting the development, said property worth over N500 billion have been destroyed since bulldozers were unleashed on the emerging area.

Ezeanya said in the past, Idumu-Ogbe had boundary issues with Umuodafe quarters of Ibusa, adding that the Supreme Court ruled in favour of his community in a landmark judgement. He said they were surprised to see bulldozers pulling down people’s property without prior notice, adding that not even a court injunction could stop the demolition machines from carrying out the destruction.

The youth leader insisted that the motive behind what he called oppressive demolition was to dispossess Asaba people of the choice land and give it to Umuodafe people of Ibusa.

But, in a swift reaction, the Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Mrs. Onianwa insisted that the land in question was acquired by the state government during the administration of former Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, for overriding public interest.

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Onianwa debunked the allegation that the land was to be given to her community in Ibusa.

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 saying that the demolition was ordered by the state government following the encroachment by unknown persons. She said the state government was even magnanimous to have de-acquired a portion of the vast land, which was given to the community, maintaining that some people were encroaching on the area not de-acquired.

“Government had de-acquired part of the land before now; it was when we went into the records that we discovered that the de-acquired portion was given back to the community, and they even paid them some money,” she said.

Regardless, the aggrieved Asaba youths insisted that due process was not followed before bulldozers were unleashed on their property, noting that there was complete disregard for the court injunction stopping the demolition.

Some affected property owners called on the Federal Government and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to come to their aid, lamenting that their entire investments have been levelled. Those who spoke, including Emmanuel Emeka, Philip Nwaisi and Patrick Ijeh, among others, said they were property developers who bought parcels of land from the Idumu-Ogbe community based on the Supreme Court judgment.