HURIWA writes IGP, Enugu Governor over alleged dispossession of ancestral lands by traditional ruler
***Condemns arbitrary arrests of Delta state journalists
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu and the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on behalf of Anakaedo and Obangene families of Ibagwa Nike community in Enugu over alleged dispossession of their ancestral lands by their traditional ruler, Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu.
HURIWA also called on the IGP to order the Commissioner of Police, Enugu Police Command to stop the misuse of its operatives to conspire with the paramount ruler to disposes the families of their ancestral lands.
In a statement signed on Thursday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko said the group had been informed by leaders from both families, Mr Ngwu Ikenna and Chief Kelvin Okwor that the land situated at Ibagwa Nike community was the subject of previous government acquisition, adding that the families had made passionate pleas to the then government of Enugu State which returned a portion measuring about 99 hectares, back to them.
The rights group added that the families had complained that their happiness was however cut short when their traditional ruler, who should protect their communal interest, allegedly decided to connive with ill-meaning state officials in the Ministry of Housing using brute force aided by armed security forces to balkanize the little portion of the land returned to them for personal and selfish reasons.
It noted that their women had been issued an ultimatum to prematurely harvest and uproot their crops and plants on the said land as the expropriators intend to level the said piece of land on Monday, 25 May 2020, stressing that no government investment and developmental projects were sited in the community.
“HURIWA has been urged by Anekeode and Obangene families of Ibagwa Nike Autonomous Community of Enugu East LGA, Enugu State to send a “Save Our Soul” message to the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi over alleged unfair expropriation of their land by the Traditional Ruler, Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu in connivance with the Commissioner of Housing, Enugu State, Mr. Vitus Okechi.
“They made this SOS message through us after they held a peaceful protest on the land and beseeched the governor to come to their aid.”
“HURIWA has therefore appealed to both the Enugu State Governor Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to stop forthwith the unconstitutional resort to self-help measures by the named housing ministry officials of the Enugu State government in connivance allegedly with their traditional ruler to take over the possession of their ancestral land which is a grave violation of human rights as provided for in chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended with specific reference to section 44 and 45,” it stated.
Meanwhile, the non-governmental organization also urged the IGP that the Delta State Police on Tuesday arbitrarily and illegally arrested four journalists, including members of the Warri Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Delta State.
They are Matthew Omonigho of the DAILY POST, Edeki Egafe of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Francis Sadhere of Business Day, and Christopher Odom, a freelance journalist.
HURIWA asserted that from available information from dependable sources, the reason for their arrest is not known yet even as the rights group said police operatives stormed the press centre of the Warri NUJ along Gbiaye Street in Warri at about 3:45 pm, picked and detained Omonigho for undisclosed reasons.
HURIWA stated that: ” As soon as the illegal arrest happened, the NUJ leadership dispatched Edeki, Sadhere, and Christopher to visit the Police Area Command in Warri to ascertain why Omonigho was arrested. On arrival, officers detained the three journalists seeking information on their colleagues while their mobile phones were also confiscated by the operatives.”
The Rights group, however, called on the Commissioner of Police in Delta state to immediately freed the journalists and heavy compensations paid to them for violations of their fundamental human rights as provided for in chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).