Enugu State Government says it is determined to resolve all pending land matters involving estate developers and host communities in the state.
Commissioner for Lands, Chief Victor Nnam, announced this on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 in Enugu, the state capital.
Nnam was reacting to a peaceful protest by youths of Obeagu Awkunawnaw community in Enugu South Local Government Area over the disputed land.
He said that the state government was not unmindful of activities of some developers whom, he said, were blackmailing the government while attempting to acquire land in the state.
On the disputed parcel of land in Obeagu Awkunanaw, the commissioner said that the state government had in 2009 allocated 1,097 hectares in the area to Private Estate West Africa (PEWA) Ltd. for the development of a modern city.
“The purpose was to decongest the population, traffic and other things happening in Enugu city as at that time,’’ the commissioner said.
He, however, said that the government deferred the premium to be paid by the company to help it develop, sell the properties and then pay the government.
The commissioner said that the company, after parcelling and selling portions of the land, failed to pay the premium as agreed to enable the government to compensate the landowners.
“The government is handicapped because PEWA has failed in its own part of the bargain by not paying the government premium.
“We know that the community people are not happy because their land was acquired and they said that the compensation was not paid to them.’’
Nnam, however, said that the government was committed to the peaceful resolution of the matter in the interest of all.
The commissioner said that it was said that the director of PEWA, Mr Kingsley Eze, threw caution to the wind by embarking on indiscriminate arrest of members of the community.
Youths had protested alleged allocation of their ancestral land to the company without due process.
The youths numbering over 200 carried placards some of which read: “Use of earthmoving equipment to destroy our structures is the height of impunity”, “Obeagu has no deal with Kingsley Eze” and “Stop instigating violence in Enugu”, among others.
The traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Mike Nnukwu, said that the takeover of the land had brought untold hardship to the community.
Nnukwu accused Eze of harassing members of the community and pulling down ancestral structures on the land.
Also, the President-General of the town union, Mr Andy Egbo, faulted the claim that 1,097 hectares of land were allocated to PEWA.
Egbo said that the community was aware that only 318 hectares of land were acquired in the community by the Old Anambra State Government for the establishment of a university.
The president-general, however, said that the process of acquiring the 318 hectares of land was not completed and compensation not paid.
He appealed to the state government to prevail on PEWA to desist from taking the community land forcibly.
When contacted, Eze said that he would not speak on the matter.
He added that every available information about the disputed land should be gotten from the Ministry of Lands.
By Emmanuel Acha