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Enugu Community Protests Against Land Encroachment, Seeks Governor Ugwuanyi’s Intervention

January 26, 2023

The protesting villagers, who carried placards with various inscriptions, accused Enugu South Council Chairman, Mr Chimezie Nkwuo of being responsible for encroaching on their land without approval.

Residents of the Umunugwu village in Ugwuaji Community, Enugu-South Local Government Area on Thursday, staged a peaceful protest against encroachment into their ancestral land along Enugu/Port Harcourt expressway.


The protesting villagers, who carried placards with various inscriptions, accused Enugu South Council Chairman, Mr Chimezie Nkwuo of being responsible for encroaching on their land without approval.


While calling on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for urgent intervention to avert bloodshed, the villagers stated that the council chairman has deployed a bulldozer to clear the land.


Some of the placards read: “Chairman Enugu South leave our land”, “We need your help His Excellency Ugwuanyi”, and “Governor Ugwuanyi please help us, Chairman Enugu South should vacate our inherited land”.


Addressing journalists, the Chairman of Umunugwu General Assembly, Okwudili Aniahu, who led the protest said the land in question belongs to Umunugwu, adding that they did not give anyone permission to enter the land.


He said, “This is the only land Umunugwu has for now and we divided it according to individuals."


Aniahu further alleged that Nkwuo took a bulldozer into the land without the permission of the Umunugwu General Assembly.


He said that Nkwuo is aware that the land belongs to them because he hails from Ugwuaji.


“Our protest is that the chairman should leave the land. We are calling on his Excellency, Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to help us as we do not have any land again.


“Many of us have not built on it since it was shared while the ones already started building, their structures were destroyed in the process of encroachment.


“This land was given to us by our great grandfathers; we inherited it individually, as a result, we do not have any document covering it,” he said.


Also, an elderly man from Umunugwu village who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the entire Ugwuaji community shared their land and the area in dispute.


He said, “We have no document that covers it or to be presented but the land was given to us when Ugwuaji community shared their land.


“We don’t know why the chairman feels like coming into the land without consulting the community and the General Assembly.


“He knows very well that this side belongs to Umunugwu family since he is from Ugwuaji,” he said.


He added there are six communities in Ugwuaji and all of them have their own land area.


“So we are calling Enugu State Government to help us recover our land,” he appealed.


Reacting, Nkwuo denied being involved in the land dispute, stressing that the community residents wanted to tarnish his image and bring his character to disrepute.


According to him, the land they are talking about may be a place where the state government wants to build an access road to link Community Secondary School, Ugwuaji.


“I will verify and respond appropriately so that I will know the people protesting.


“But I believe it is that particular land the Enugu Government wants to put road and if the state government is working on the land, why are they calling my name?” he asked.


When contacted, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Greg Nnaji said Ugwuanyi had employed consultative methods in bringing development to the people.


He said the Ministry of Land and Urban Planning had engaged the community in an attempt to open up the axis for development.


“In furtherance of that, the state is aware of that road and this corroborates the information Nkwuo gave,” he said.


Nnaji said the action of the protesting youths over the land was unfortunate, saying the media should help to guide them.


He said, “I sincerely appeal to them to sheath their sword and embrace development.


“Development is the key and we have done so much in Enugu State for over seven and a half years in opening up rural communities in an attempt to decongest Enugu as a city.


“So opening that road is a new phase of development in that zone and I ask them to embrace peace and let the job go,” he appealed.