Monday, 18 July 2016

Bloody: Heads roll in Anambra communities over land dispute



By Okechukwu Onuegbu


Tension is building up at Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State as the lingering land dispute and litigation which began since 1906 between Nkwelle Ezunaka and Ogbunike degenerated into fierce battle leading to loss of lives, even as many sustained various degrees of injury from bullet.

News48hour.com learnt that the fiasco was as a result of an attempt by the people of  Osile Village Ogbunike to survey the land in dispute only to be accosted by the people of Amuche village Nkwelle Ezunaka, who allegedly opened fire instantly.

Speaking to newsmen, however, the immediate Past President of Nkwelle Ezunaka Community and the Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Anambra State chapter, Elder Chris Eluemuno said “they hired thugs armed with AK-47 rifles, Pump Action Guns, probably to protect the surveyor and on sighting my people they shot into the crowd and injured a lot of people working in the land.

“This matter has also been reported to the police at 3-3. The same Osile people 2years ago shoot and killed two brothers from the same parents from Umuonuora family who owns the land. There youth leader who participated in the shooting was recently sentenced to death by an Otuocha High Court.

“If the lands they are surveying belong to them they wouldn’t have surrounded themselves with armed men and dangerous weapons. But they did what they to us because they are not the owner of the land. Osile has frustrated all attempts by the relevant authorities to go to the land and implement the judgment of the Supreme Court delivered in 1917.

News48hour.com further gathered that in 1906, one Justice Hanson of Onitsha customary Court delivered a judgment on the land in favour of Nkwelle Ezunaka, while stating that Nkisi River was the boundary between Ogbunike and Nkwelle Ezunaka, and Osile had equally admitted that it was Nkwelle people that gave them land across the Nkisi River for farming purpose.

Also Nkwelle people claimed that by 1917, Osile was nowhere on the land under dispute, but a portion of the land now known as Atoji, was leased to Ifite people of Ogbunike by Umuonuora of Amuche Village while Amawa and Osile were tenants to the Ezi Nkwelle people.

Similarly, they maintained that after the judgment of 1917, Osile people encroached over to Atoji land and sacked the Ifite people and occupied the portion of land earlier leased to Ifite people, and in 1920, the Amuche people went to Ogidi customary court to challenge the trespass into their land by Osile people but the then presiding Judge Igwe Walter Amobi  advised the parties to go and fix a boundary "that a stream is not necessarily a boundary in this country."

That according to them, led Chiefs from Amuche and Osile to proceed with the boundary demarcation during which they arrived with the boundary adopted by Stevenson, who visited the site on the 7th of August, 1922, whose visit gave rise to Supreme Court judgment of 1927 that put the new boundary at one hundred yards from Ezi Aguleri to an Oji tree and back to Nkisi River.

They posited that “The judgment of the supreme court was based only on the portion of land previously leased to Ifite and now occupied by Osile and did not in any way affect the rest of the Atoji land which until date remain the bona fide property of Umuonuora Amuche Village of Nkwelle - Ezunaka.

“It is important to note that there was an appeal Court judgment of 25th April 2002 between Osile and Ezi Umunya Village. The judgment was delivered by Justice Eugene chukwuemeka Ubaegonu  (JCA) who gave a descriptive location of the land in dispute.

“After citing the judgment of 1922 by Stevenson, the judge now said, "the relevance of this judgment is that (1) the respondents   (Osile) be it the land in dispute or any other land in the area extends north - wards beyond the Nkisi river, and extends to Aguleri road and continues in the northerly direction”. 


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