BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
No fewer than 600 landlords mostly women and widows of Nkpika Layout Obosi, in Idemili North Local Government Area, Anambra State, have protested alleged land grabbing in their community.
The protesters, most of whom are elderly, locked the Obosi end of the Second Niger Bridge Road and accused a developer (name withheld) and a popular pentecostal church of attempts to dispossess them of their lands, located along the road.
Under the aegis of the Nkpikpa Phase II Landlord Association, the protesters who displayed various placards with inscriptions indicting the developer and the church, urged the Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo to come to their aids.
Addressing journalists shortly after their protest on Monday, the Chairman of Umuabua Family in Obosi, one of the landlords of the land, Onyedika Abanobi and the Chairman of the Nkpikpa Phase II Landlord Association, Victor Azubike, alleged that the land developer was colluding with the military to harass and dispossess them of their property.
Abanobi alleged that the said land developer, with the help of the military in early 2022, entered the land and started clearing it, and when they approached him to know who authorised him, he claimed that the immediate past governor of the state gave him Certificate of Occupancy to the land.
He said, “I am the elected Chairman of the Umuabua Family of Obosi, who is one of the landlords and the only tenants we have in that land are members of Nkpikpa Phase II Landlord Association, we do not have any business with any developer or church as far as our lands are concerned.
“The members of the Landlord Association as a group and individuals agreed and we sold our land to them and since 1998 and 2000 the transaction was done, we have had no problem with them, we have been relating like families and they have been cooperating with us.
“We started having intruders and trespassers into our land, particularly the ones sold to the Nkpika Landlords Association since 2022 when the Second Niger Bridge road crossed the land, and now they have seen that development is coming to Nkpikpa Layout through the Second Niger Bridge, they want to dispossess poor men, women and widows of the land, we will never accept that.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Nkpikpa Landlords Association, Mr Azubike appealed to Soludo to intervene by stopping any construction project that will start on the land, following the alleged ongoing clearing with caterpillars on the land, saying that they will not live to see anybody dispossessing them of their over 25 years legitimately acquired property because of the apparent development that is coming there.
A spokesperson for the women and over 50 widows who own lands in the area, Mrs Constance Nsofor, who also spoke with newsmen, said, “We bought the land from our Obosi landlords, made up of Umuabua, Anikpee and Umuezechima families, as a farming land between 1998 to 2000, without any knowledge that a road will ever pass through the land let alone Second Niger Bridge road.
“We have been farming on the land for over 25 years, planting yam, cassava and harvesting the palm fruits there, and for one day nobody, including our landlords disturbed us, we were however surprised that a man, who claimed to be a developer, came from nowhere and started clearing and selling our land claiming to have been given C of O by the immediate past government.
“We are appealing to Soludo, the Army and Navy authorities to halt the intimidation we have been subjected to following the presence of soldiers of Nigerian Army and Navy drafted to protect the land for whom we have no land transaction.
“We are poor women and widows, the proceeds from the land are all we use in taking care of our children,” she added.