The Ogui Youth Council has refused to accept the six-man panel set by the Enugu State government to investigate the Ugwuaji land dispute, saying that the land in question is a subject of litigation in court between the Ogui Nike and Awkunanaw communities.
The youths, therefore, made a call on the Enugu State governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to use his office to effect the immediate cessation of trespass and intrusion into Ogui Nike land by the Ministry of Housing, Awkunanaw communities and other illegitimate entrants.
In a letter to the governor entitled: “RE: AGUOWO OGUI NIKE COMMUNITY LAND: HISTORY, FACT AND A CALL FOR GOVERNMENT RESOLUTION AND JUSTICE,” signed by it’s Chairman, Oluchukwu Fidelis, the youths faulted the setting up of a committee to only investigate issues of contention among Ugwuaji communities even when the said land does not belong to Awkunanaw.
They requested the immediate implementation of the boundry decision between Ogui and Awkunanaw communities as established by a 1942 Inter-tribal Boundaries’ Settlement Ordinance No. 49 of 1933, which was further affirmed by the former deputy governor, who was the then Chairman, Enugu State Boundary Committee, Ezenwata Okechukwu Itanyi, the then Surveyor General of Enugu, C.C Isife and others.
The youths who claimed that various key institutions and offices of the state are in the custody of some of the facts, evidences and credible documents regarding the Ogui Nike land boundary with Awkunanaw communities said that government should be proactive in order to forestall a possible breakdown of law and order, which could arise in the course of the land dispute, adding that it is now like a gathering storm which may snowball into a hurricane of sort if good measures are not taken.
According to them, some of the facts annexed in their letter to the governor as relates to the land predate Nigeria’s independence, which were recognized by the previous successive governments of Eastern Region, East Central State, old Anambra, old and the present Enugu State of Nigeria.
According to them these include: “The 1942 enquiry into a land dispute between Ogui Nike and Awkunanaw which was headed by Geoffrey Horne, A.D.O under the inter-tribal boundaries’ settlement ordinance No. 49 of 1933 to decide boundary between Awkunanaw and the Nike Clan in the then Agbani District of Udi Division of the Onitsha province.
“Through this Ordinance, the boundaries of Ogui Nike/Awkunanaw as well as Nike/Ngwo were determined and it established that the Aguowo land which includes the disputed area has been in exclusive possession and farmed by Ogui Nike without any challenge whatsoever.
“Also in 2002, following the acquisition of Independence Layout Phase 11, Enugu State government had set up a committee headed by the then Deputy Governor of Enugu State; Ezenwata Okechukwu Itanyi. The Committee after deliberations resolved the problem of boundary between Ogui and Awkunanaw communities by adopting a three-pronged approach viz; reconnaissance, field operation, GIS mapping and coordination as well as invoked the decision of the national boundary commission that adopted boundary for Enugu North and Enugu South, which by extension served as the boundary for the two communities.”
The Youth Council noted that both Ogui Nike, Amaechi and Ugwuaji communities were both represented by professional surveyors as witnesses in addition to the state government Surveyor General and Zonal surveyor.
The following surveyors, they said, were nominated by the communities: L.C Eneje – Ugwuaji; R.C Chukwu -Amaechi; and N.J Igwebike – Ogui Nike.
They further stated that following a request by Ogui Nike, Awkunanaw communities, the government of Enugu State after careful assessment and evaluation confirmed that 33 per cent of the land used for the development of the Independence Layout Phase II housing estate project, was originally owned by Ogui Nike, while 66 per cent fell on the land originally owned by Awkunanaw (Amaechi and Ugwuaji), adding that consequently, both Awkunanaw and Ogui Nike received compensatory plots which were ceded back to them by the government in 2005.
The Youth Council also attached a letter from Barr. E.E Egbo, a native of Ugwuaji dated May 23, 2012, which equally confirmed and recognised the indisputable fact that 33 per cent of the land used for the Independence Layout Phase ll belongs to Ogui Nike wherein he pleaded to the Enugu State government to recognise Ugwuaji as beneficiaries to the compensation due to the Awkunanaw communities.
They also included in the letter ia court case filed in 2005 by Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw seeking the nullification of the government final decision in respect of the report of the boundary between Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw and Ogui Nike.
“After series of court appearances for about 14 years from 2005 to 2019 without credible evidence or fact, Ugwuaji Community of Awkunanaw on 5th June 2019 pleaded with the court to discontinue the matter thereby accepting previous decisions of the colonial administration (1942) and government of Enugu State on the land. The plea for discontinuance was granted on 28th January 2020 by Hon Justice A.O Anidi.
“While recognising the report of the boundary dispute between Obeagu Ugwuaji Awkunanaw and Ugwuaji Awkunanaw communities all in Enugu South Local Government (ESLN No 16); and the Technical Report of the Enugu State boundary dispute between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities comprising (Amaechi and Ugwuaji) part 1 and II (ESLN No 17 and 18), the Enugu State Gazette published on 24, December 2015, government, therefore, affirmed and confirmed that the boundary between Ogui Nike Community and Awkunanaw communities remain consistent with 1942, 2002 and 2005 decisions by the successive colonial and democratic government at the times in question,” they pointed out.
The Youth Council while expressing dismay that Ogui Nike Community has been visited with outright violence, torture and intimidation, added that there’s been consistent trespass in their land with impunity which has consequently resulted in the disruption of viable and legitimate economic activities in the Area.
Part of their letter reads: “Over the past few years, there has been consistent trespass into the Ogui Nike Community land by members of Ugwuaji Awkunanaw community including: disruptions of viable and legitimate economic activities of Ogui Nike community members, attempts to illegally usurp and manage properties in the said location, sales and allocation of land belonging to Ogui Nike by Ugwuaji Community, physical torture, intimidation, violation of rights of people of Ogui Nike Community and flagrant abuse of court orders and executive instructions.
“As we are no longer suspecting that the act is being supported by state authorities which is evident in the presence of state Ministry of Housing in the dispute area, we, therefore, call on government to leave our only remaining land and do a holistic inquiry into not just Ugwuaji land problems, but to also determine and recommend effective implementation of existing boundary demarcation between Enugu North and South local government areas which include the land in dispute between Ogui Nike and Awkunanaw communities as established by both Enugu State boundary committee and the National Boundry Commission”.