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Outrage As Edo Governor, Obaseki Demolishes 90 Houses Despite Restraining Court Order

October 1, 2022

The governor ordered the demolition of these houses to reclaim 1,229 hectares of land meant for the development of a new town project in the city.


There was fury on Friday in Edo State over Governor Godwin Obaseki's demolition of at least 90 residential houses despite a court injunction against it.

The governor ordered the demolition of these houses to reclaim 1,229 hectares of land meant for the development of a new town project in the city.

The demolition happened barely 24 hours after the government declared a 24-hour curfew in Ihhiri-Obazagbon-Ogheghe, Benin.

Meanwhile, Justice Veestee Eboreime had, on August 4, 2022, ruled in favor of elders and leaders of Oke-Oroma community and restrained the Edo Governor from further trespassing on, bulldozing or developing the land in dispute situate and lying at Oke-Oroma Village, Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area, Edo State with an area of 714.750 hectares or doing anything whatsoever on the land in dispute that is inconsistent with the rights of Claimants/Applicants pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Justice Veestee made this ruling in a Suit filed by Gaius Emokpae and five others, where he granted an Interlocutory Injunction restraining the defendants/Respondents, their servants, agents and/or privies from taking possession of the land situate and lying at Oke-Oroma Village.

The defendants in the suit were; Edo State Governor, the Attorney-General and the Edo State Geographic Information Service.

Reacting to the governor's defiance to the court order, the Oke-Aroma elders threatened to file contempt proceedings against the Edo Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Oluwole Iyamu.

"What the government has done is to trample on the order of court and subvert the rule of law. There is no issue of land grabbing involved. It is up to the Bar to defend the rule of law in our State and our law practice.

"Government is supposed to protect its citizens and not destroy their lives. To build a new town is not done through annexation and forceful acquisition. The action of Governor Obaseki is against United Nations rules on human rights. We will use the law to ensure our ancestral land is preserved for our generation to come," one of the elders said.

Also, a socio-cultural group, the Benin Solidarity Movement, (BSM), condemned the action of Governor Obaseki saying developers would not have been allowed to spend money to erect structures on the land.

President-General of the group, Ambassador Curtis Eghosa Ugbo, in a statement, said the destruction of the properties at a time Nigerians are passing through difficult times was wicked and devilish.

"One would have expected that Obaseki should have not only erected signposts in the said plots of land to show that the properties belong to the State Government but also create awareness of ownership of the said plots of land.

"These are Edo citizens who paid their taxes as at when due. They deserve accolades; they struggled to purchase the land unknowing to them that the landed properties they had acquired belong to the Edo State government."

An activist, Barr Daniel Osa-Ogbegie, warned that the governor was acquiring community lands for his cronies and friends.

"A Governor is subject to laws, not above the law. A resort to self-help has been held in a plethora of cases to be illegal, ultra vires and therefore subject to payment of damages.

"My heart goes out to all those whose houses were demolished by the governor, but what really pains me is that Obaseki has been going around Edo South, grabbing communal lands on behalf of his friends, Nigerians and Chinese. 

"Governorship is not forever. A time will come when books will be opened and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."