Army, residents lock horns over allege demolition of 100 houses in Edo

Army, residents lock horns over allege demolition of 100 houses in Edo

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The Nigerian Army and Edo residents have engaged in a verbal attack over alleged demolition of about 100 houses in Oghede Community, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State.

MRS. FAITH OMOREGIE, WIDOW OF A SOLDIER IN A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH WITH PROTESTING RESIDENTS OF OGHEDE COMMUNITY ON MONDAY AT EDO NUJ PRESS CENTRE

The renewed onslaught over land grabbing by the military, which started decades ago, assumed a frightening two weeks after some residents of the area including women and Children were displaced two weeks ago over attempts by security agents to annex the area.

No one has claimed responsibility for the alleged sabotage which have denied some families of the area their means of livelihood including farming activities.

Speaking during a peaceful protest on Monday in Benin City, one of the elders from Oghede Community, Chief Felix Aghahowa, accused the Army of demolishing about 100 houses in the area.

He said described a purported claim by the Army that the disputed territory (land) in Oghede Community had been acquired in addition to the earlier acquisition that was made over 57 years ago.

Aghahowa, accused the military of resorting to self help and deploying brute force to oppress the indigenes and appealed to the government to step in and do justice to the issue.

He also alleged that the 200 feet distance demarcation between the Army disputed parcel of land from the host Community, is highly irrepressible.

Aghahowa who gave a brief history about the disputed land, also stated that aside from the acquisition that was done during the reign of his father’s era, no other acquisition.

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According to him, “What informed the recent protest is that the they (Army) are destroying our houses with bulldozers. They said that they want to live within 200 feet from the Community. It is impossible.

“We want the government to step in and do justice to the issue.

“We have researched, and there is nothing to show that there is second acquisition.

“The Army has not been able to produce titled documents that they are claiming from Oghede.

“We want the government to step in and do justice to the issue.

“We have researched, there is nothing to reflect the second acquisition”, he said.

Narrating her ordeal on how the military has made her a living hell, widow of a soldier, Mrs. Faith Omoregie whose husband built a house in Oghede Community, appealed to the relevant authorities and save her from the iron grip of the military.

The distraught widow said: “I am begging soldiers. It has been long we have been having problem in Oghede Community.

“My husband is is dead. I didn’t have a child for my husband, but his family decide that I should stay in the house that he built when he was alive. But the family take the salary away from me.

“What to eat now is a problem to me. They should leave my husband’s house, which had been marked for demolition alone.

PROTESTERS
A CROSS SESSION OF PROTESTERS AT THE NUJ PRESS CENTRE, BENIN

Also speaking, 90-year-old victim of land grabbing, Mrs. Grace Ewere from the Community, wondered why the military rolled bulldozer to destroy her property and

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“They have been destroying our land. We no longer have any place to live. They have rolled bulldozer into our land. They have started destroying our land. They also said that we do not have land in Oghede.

“We did not give soldiers any land. Part of the land that they are occupying was given to the Nigerian Army during the tenure of late Brig-General Ogbemudia.

“They should leave our land alone. The destruction is too much and unbeatable. House that has been built, have been demolisheoverily including uncompleted houses. Soldiers nightmare is difficult to bear.

On his part, the Mr. David Ugolor, Executive Director, African Network for economic and Environmental Justice, ANEEJ, bemoaned the crisis.

He accused the military of demolishing a tomb of his late sister-in-law who died in the United States and flown to Nigeria and buried in Oghede Community.

“I went into that Community where my elder brother’s wife who died in 2013, was brought from the United States and buried on our acquired land in Oghede.

“We did a survey and other necessary things.

“It will surprise you to know that the military people have gone there and brought the tomb down and the level of destruction and the damage that they have done to the Community is unacceptable.

“We are here to call on the Media to help us bring awareness into our plight and assist the Community to avert violence because the language that they seem to understand is violence. But people of Oghede Community have choose the path of peace for justice to prevail”, he said.

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Responding, the Public Relations officer, 4-Brigade, Nigerian Army, Capt. Yemi Sokoya, described the allegations against the Army as false.

“It is not true, people go an fight their battle in the media instead of facing the truth.

“The land in question is army land, but Community keep selling the land to Civilians. The Army took them to Court and the order that no body continue work on the land, pending the determination of the matter.

“But they keeping selling, building and eating deep into the barrack. The matter is in Court and should allow the court to do it work rather than rushing to the media with lies.

“It is not by protesting or rushing to the media branding the army as wicked organisation but allowing the court to do their job.

“We are waiting patiently for the verdict, the land belong to the army and they keep on selling and building on the land even after several warning”, he said.

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