Elders and youth of Ukhiri Community in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State and the traditional head, HRH Chief Godwin Aigbe are engaged in war of words over crisis that has torn the community apart as a result of illegal sales of land belonging to the community.
Some elders and youth of the community are calling on the Inspector General of Police(IGP), Usman Alkali, to ensure that suspected land speculators detained at the Command Force Headquarters, Abuja, are prosecuted over violent attack on residents of the community and destruction of properties owing to illegal sale of land.
They said their appeal is hinged on an attempt by some powerful members of the community to pervert the course of justice to free the alleged speculators. Members of the community also accused the Enogie, (traditional head), Chief Godwin Aigbe, of allegedly masterminding attacks on those opposed to his illegal sales of community land and said most people have abandoned the village for fear of their lives.
This is as the solicitors to the youths and elders of the Community, Barrister Pius Oiwoh, has asked the Edo State Geographic Information Service to place on any “request for a certificate of occupancy or any form of registration of title or interest in respect of properties in Ukhiri Community.
Speaking on behalf of the troubled community, Monday Igbe however appealed to Governor Godwin Obaseki to please come to their aid. He said: “The Enogie is maltreating the community. He has a gang of boys who terrorise our people and are involved in the illegal sales of land. He has been selling our land in the last 20 years since he ascended the throne as the community head. We are living in fear.
“The Enogie is using his influence as a retired Chief Superintendent to ensure that those boys held in Police custody are not charged to court.”
But in a swift reaction, the Enogie who is in the centre of the crisis denied any involvement in illegal sale of land. He noted that his insistence to preserve land in his community led to a deadly attack on him which almost claimed his life. He said, “You can ask anybody. I’m the only Enogie in Ikpoba Okha that is not selling land. It is one woman called Mama Ireland and her brothers that are selling the community land to people in diaspora, collecting money and handing it over to her brother in a bid to take over my position and that is the crux of the whole matter. They want to kill me because I refuse to sell. The people selling this land are proscribed community development association (CDA) members.
“They have collected money worth over N60m from people in abroad with a promise to give them land and part of the money is what they are using to fight me.”