Benin monarch urged to restore village head, end land grabbing

Benin monarch urged to restore village head, end land grabbing


The worrisome issue of land grabbing in some communities in Benin Metropolis may not abate soon. The proscribed Community Development Associations (CDAs) have continue to exist despite the Edo State government and the Benin monarch’s efforts to stamp out the menace.

The scenario is not abating, going by the attitude of some community leaders who are major actors in the matter of land grabbing. They compound the situation by usurpation of roles; with the Ikhuen ‘Iyanomon Community, Off Benin-Auchi Road in Ward 5, Uhunmwode Local Government Area, Edo State in the spotlight.

The community, is embroiled in leadership and land grabbing disputes involving the Ohen Obaro (Traditional Priest), Chief Solomon Ogbeiwe, popularly called “Sonowe.”

Some elders of the community have accused him via a petition addressed to His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin that he sold over 50 plots allocated to the Oba in the community.

The petition was signed by four leading members of the community, including Lucky Igiebor, Ikhuen ‘Iyanomon, acting Odionwere (village head); Elder Pullen Onaghinor (second-in Command); Elder Frederick Oviahon (third-in-Command) and Elder Monday Osarenren.

They alleged that the situation was worsened as a former Odionwere Omuada, who has been suspended by the Oba of Benin allegedly acts in concert with the Ohen Obaro and emboldened with thugs who have made it impossible for the third-in-command elder in the Community, Elder Lucky Igiebor, to function and preside over affairs in Ikhuen Iyanomon community.

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The petitioners also cited a case in point where one Omoregie allegedly sold a plot of land to a developer, and the illegal Ohen Obaro in order to intimidate the lady who bought the land from further developing her plot of land by digging a grave at the site, a situation that would prevent anyone from performing the customary “Ema-olu”, a needed ceremony preceding the commencement of a building.

The carriage of the suspended Ohen Obaro has been of concern, as the Ohen claims he is the head of the Community.

The petitioners further stated that, the alleged imposture, goes about in an Enogie regalia, which indeed is a taboo in the Benin Kingdom. The nefarious act of the “Enogie/Ohen Obaro” does not seem to stop at that, he is alleged to have sold the forest woods in Egbe-Eboh of Okhuare and he presides illegally over a shrine in the Community which does not even belong to him.

The petition by four of the functioning elders has become more urgent and made public since some palace functionaries have prevented them from not only presenting the petition directly to the monarch.

The quartet have also made their grievances known to the Edo State Police Command in the petition containing numerous prayers which among other things, urge the monarch, to investigate, aside from the Police authorities, the actions and usurpation of ‘Enogieship’ by Ohen Obaro.

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While the petitioners also ask for the disarming of the assembled thugs by the illegal Ohen, they also made a passionate plea on behalf of the grieving elders to Oba Ewuare to lift the suspension on Elder Lawrence Osayande Ekeneza, which they claim is the Odionwere of Iyanomon Community, assuring that he has has the ability to lead the Community, according to due tradition and put a stop to the land grabbing in Ikhuen’Iyanomon Community.

Contacted, the Ohen Obaro, Chief Solomon Ogbeiwe, alias “Sonowe”, admitted that he is the custodian of the land, but denied the allegations.

He said, “I gave 10 plots of land to Oba Erediauwa”, not 50 plots of land as alleged by the petitioners, adding that the titled documents of the land are intact and can be verified in Oba palace.

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