Obaseki goes after land-grabbers who defiled him in Oghehe area

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Edo State government has gone after land-grabbers along the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe road.

The government said it decided to stop the grabbers from cutting into lands meant for developing a new town project in the area.

The affected area is land measuring 1229 hectares along the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road.

The land was acquired in 2017 for the new town project but had been encroached upon by land speculators. The area repossessed used to be the Ogba Forest Reserve at the time of the acquisition.

Godwin Obaseki
Godwin Obaseki

The repossession exercise is part of Governor Godwin Obaseki's renewed campaign against land-grabbing in the state, aimed at restoring sanity in land administration in the state.

On Wednesday, September 28, Obaseki, through the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, declared a curfew in the area for 24 hours starting from 12am today, September 29, to midnight, September 30.

The curfew was to avoid repeating the last government effort to demolish buildings allegedly encroaching on the government's land in the area.

Mr. Nehikhare told Standard Gazette that the curfew was necessary because land-grabbers and their thugs beat the government's workers and burnt equipment in the last planned demolition.

He was responding to some grievances from the residents who accused the government of not giving them enough time to prepare, executing the curfew 24hrs after notification.

In response, the Commissioner said, "How can they say the government did not give them enough time? Every year, the government had told them what was going on. Over a year ago, the government put a notice on the side of the land, informing them of what was coming there.

"The curfew, we didn't want them to harass the workers. We moved in the demolition trucks around three am. We tried it before, and they beat up the workers and seized and burned the equipment.

Mr. Nehikhare also confirmed that "the government had invited the leadership of the land-grabbers before, but they refused to honour the invitation.

Government Obaseki's government tried to use scare tactics, informing the grabbers that security agents were brought down from Abuja for the exercise but did not deter the encroachers from attempting to sell government lands."

This time, with less than 24hrs notice, the government officials entered the area at about 3 am with a full complement of security personnel. The area was repossessed with no casualty.

The government has taken over all the buildings within the Ogba River Forest Reserve and is removing all buildings, except for those it may use as offices.

"We thank all security agencies, members of the affected communities, the general public, and the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) involved with the exercise for their cooperation," Commissioner Nehikhare said.

He added, "The government had tried severally to engage the four communities involved, but they have always rebuffed the government. The hostilities and widespread encroachment have made it difficult to enumerate and commence compensation assessments.

"Once the repossession is completed, enumeration will commence, and payment will be made to the rightful occupants who were there before the acquisitions.

Today's total structures are 106, and 24 will not be demolished. The others are being demolished, and the site's perimeter is trenched.

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