Precisely one year ago, a 104 old woman from Nnewi in Anambra State Mrs Margret Onwuelo sent a Save our Soul (SoS) to Governor Willie Obiano and other well meaning people in the State that she has been rendered homeless by some people in her community led by a billionaires businessman Chief Cletus Ibeto came and demolished her house located at No 136-140 Abel Okoye road Egbu, Umuenem Otolo Nnewi with bulldozers and armed thugs on the ground that the land where her house is situated does not belong to her.
Mrs Onwuelo through her lawyer J.O Asoluka SAN also sent a petition to the Inspector General of Police demanding for arrest and prosecution of those that rendered her homeless. As if the SOS to Governor Obiano and the petition to the Nigerian Police Chief did not yield the expected results, the 104 old woman has dragged Ibeto and 14 others to the State High Court sitting at Nnewi asking the court to look into the case.
Listed as defendants who were led by Ibeto were: Ikechukwu Onwuelo, Ebuka Ileka, Afam Obiekosi and Charles Onyeka. Others are:Emeka Okafor, Patrick Nwosu, Okechukwu Nwaizugbe, Michael Okafor, Uzochukwu Ojukwu, Benjamin Akamelu, Theresa Onwuelo, Beatrice Ileka, Lawrence Ofodile and Onyebuchi Akamelu.
The aged mother in a 83 paragraph statement of claim told the Court in case no HN/59/2020 that the defendants had on January 6 demolished her family properties located at No. 136-140 Abel Okoye road, Egbu, Umuenem Otolo, Nnewi. Mrs Onwuelo who sued along with her three daughters namely: Margaret Ukachukwu, Felicia Ezeudo and Clementina Okolo for themselves and on behalf of Edward Onwuelo family stated in the statement of claim that Ibeto who led the vandalization and grabbing of the land had no family ties with the Onwuelos whatsoever, and is not from the village where the land is located.
She stated that the land was bought in 1953, with hand written agreement for sale of land dated January 15 1953 and receipt for payment of stamp duty dated 13th March, 1953. The land also have a survey plan No. RU/AN SP401/2012
Mrs. Onwuelo also stated her family commenced the process of moving to the said property in 1973 and completed the process in 1974. She further stated that for more than 67 years she and her family were in “uniterrupted peaceful possession of the piece and parcel of land, cultivating same”.
However, her husband Mr. Edward Onwuelo died in 1991. His death was followed by her first son, Peter and second son Paul. Following these tragedies, she stated, “Peter’s wife, Theresa, who is listed as the 12th defendant” became very aggressive, disrespectful and critical of her and started instigating her children against her mother-in-law and took personal issues outside the family”.
When she discovered that her daughter-inlaw began suspicious moves suggesting that she had plans to get outsiders to tamper with the land, she approached the traditional ruler, the Obi of Nnewi, Igwe K. O. N. Orizu III who in his rulling affirmed the incontrovertibility of her ownership of the land.
Few of the paragraphs reads “Dissatisfied By this, the 12th Defendant, on the prompt of other defendants and some others, sought the intervention of the Defendant to assist them to deal with the Plaintiffs. On Sunday the 5th of January, 2020, the 1st Defendant, alongside other Defendants visited the Plaintiffs’ land, after which, they had a meeting where they made plans on how to invade the land and wreck untold havoc on the properties.
“Curiously, on the morning of 6th of January, 2020, the Defendants, led by the 1st Defendant, alongside some hired armed thugs, earth moving machines and tipper vehicles, forcibly invaded the said piece of land described as Plan No: RU/AN SP401/2012 situate at No. 136-140 Ab Okoye Road, Egbu, Umuenem, Otolo, Nnewi, and undertook an extensive demolition and destruction of the structures built on the land by the Plaintiffs, their properties and the land itself.
“The demolition was commenced on the instruction of the Defendant visibly and actively led by the 1st Defendant, a non-member the community, from Obiofia community and the 2nd defendant, the Plaintiffs grandson and the son of the 12th Defendant. The Plaintiff hereby pleads and shall rely on the contemporaneous note of the 1st Defendant’s short story to the Inspector General of Police office, at IG Monitoring Unit conference meeting on 21st January 2020 at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
“The 1st Defendant is a suspect along with other defendants in the ongoing criminal investigation by the Police of “Conspiracy, Criminal, Trespass, Malicious damage to property, Threat to Life and unlawful demolition of property of Mrs Margaret Onwuelo by Mr. Cletus Ibeto and others”, the subject matter of this suit.
Mrs. Onwuelo prayed the court presided over by Hon. Justice D. C. Maduechesi to among other things declare as followed “that by the invasion, trespass, demolition and subsequent actions of the defendants on the properties, the plaintiffs’ constitutionally garanteed right to dignity of human person, right to own properties, right to private and family life and right to personal liberty were grossly violated; a declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to the statutory right of occupancy of the piece of land; a declaration that the private second access road paved in the middle of the land by Benjamin Akamelu, his agents and privies without permission of Mrs. Onwuelo amounts to trespass; an order that the defendants pay N30. 925million as estimated value of damaged structures; N21, 494,750 to cover properties carted away when the place was invaded; N1. 3billion as aggravated and exemplary damages the plaintiffs suffered; N320million for gross violation of the plaintiffs’ constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights when they invaded the land and N100million for damages occasioned by trespass and creation of private access road; and N50million for the cost of action assessed in that sum”
Justice Maduechesi adjourned the matter to be heard as from May 12,2021.
He, however, warned that any party that will default in appearing the days the case is listed for hearing will pay a fine of N50, 0000.00 to the other.