There was a showdown Tuesday, between youths, women and men of Oghara community, Ethiope West local government area of Delta state, hometown of former Delta State governor, Mr. James Ibori and authorities of the Nigerian Navy Logistics Command, Oghara resulting in the barricading of the Benin-Warri section of the East-West road.
The showdown which is connected to an alleged illegal acquisition of a large portion of land belonging to the community by authorities of the Nigerian Navy Logistics Command, however, lasted several hours, creating a heavy gridlock, delaying travellers and motorists from passing on to their destinations.
Leading a protest of over 2000 indigenes of the community, Rev. David Ugolor, Mr. Stephen Egbivwie and Mr. Tony Omene, under the umbrella of Oghara Centre for Social Justice, said the Nigerian Navy has grabbed the community’s land which is the only lively means of farming for survival by its indigenes, without consulting the people.
“In 2006, when the Nigerian Navy requested land for the construction of a barrack, a piece of land in the community which was initially meant for the Nigeria Mobile Police was traded to the Navy and the police relocated to Ogharefe. But the Navy has illegally acquired every piece of land close to the land ceded them, including that of the Catholic Mission which belongs to the Order of St. Augustine, measuring 600ft by 500ft.” the protesters stated.
While lamenting that their entire community land was eventually being forcefully seized by the Navy without any land remaining for the people who are mainly farmers to do their farming activities, the protesters warned the command to stay within the large portion the community had earlier given to it and stop encroaching on other farmlands belonging to indigenes of the community.
Reacting to the situation, the Iyasere of Oghara Kingdom, Mr. Sampson Orakpor, said that the community would resist any form of intimidation and force to acquire their land illegally and appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to restrain the command in order to avoid any form of breakdown of law and order.
The Iyasere accused the immediate past commissioner of Land and Survey, Mr. Misan Ukubeyinje of allegedly conniving with the Navy after been offered gratification to cede out the community land.
In a swift reaction, the Nigerian Navy Logistics Command denied the allegation, claiming that the disputed land was rightly ceded to the command by the Delta State Government in May 2015, following the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O).
Displaying a copy of the C of O before journalists, the Flag Officer Commanding, Nigerian Navy Logistics Command Headquarters, Oghara, Rear Admiral Begroy Ibe-Enwo, stood his ground that the Delta State Government on May 28, 2015, issued the Navy a C of O.
“Based on strategic considerations for the Nigerian Navy Logistics Command to be located here, a recommendation was made by the Navy to the Delta State Government and the state government agreed to extend the land. If I may say with the present security in the country, we don’t want neighbours all around a military outfit. Before, if we did that, it was a mistake. Security concerns also precede things we do. The land is for security and betterment of the country.
“It was 30 hectares that was originally meant for a mobile unit which was now extended to the new size (of 243 hectares for the barrack) to accommodate other facilities for the proper functioning of the Logistics Command. It is not about military facilities; we have hospital and the primary school that may increase to secondary school or even a campus of the Navy Maritime University in the state." Rear Admiral Ibe-Enwo, stated.
An investigation by SaharaReporters revealed that the land was ceded to the Nigerian Navy on lease for 99 years for a sum of N146, 233,200.00 allegedly pocketed by the former land and survey commissioner.