Following constant protests over alleged land grab by residents and developers, the Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), yesterday, pledged to investigate issues of land appropriations undermining the development of the state.
The state has been embroiled recently in land grab activities, which prompted the House of Assembly to intervene in the crisis.
At its maiden meeting on the land grab activities, the lawmakers moved to ensure no case of land seizure was swept under the carpet.
The protest against land annexation was triggered by a petition of members of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Uselu Staff Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Limited against Okhuoromi Community in Oredo Council of the state.
Counsel to Okhuoromi Community had appeared before a committee of the House to make explain the community’s position on the petition on alleged land grab against the chief priest of Okhuoromi Community.
The maiden meeting of the committee chaired by representative of Akoko Edo Constituency II, Emmanuel Agbaje, was to get first hand information from all parties on the alleged land grab against the chief priest of Okhuoromi Community, Ovbokhan Igbinovia.
Addressing the parties, Agbaje said the meeting was convened to obtain documentary evidences of the transactions and address grey areas in the agreement.
Agbaje said in view of the petition, there was the need for thorough investigation hence the Speaker, Marcus Onobun, set up the Ad-hoc committee and invited both parties in the interest of justice and fairness.
To expedite the committee’s investigation, the petitioners submitted their documents on behalf of the cooperative society through its President, Wellington Ogieriakhi, while counsel, Peter Uwadiae submitted documents on behalf of Okhuoromi Community.
In an interview with The Guardian, counsel to cooperative society, Raphael Iyamu, said with House of Assembly’s intervention, expectations were high that some breaches would be addressed, while Uwadiea said Okhuoromi Community had done a detailed analysis of the transactions and was expecting a satisfactory outcome for both parties.
Also, farmers on the Aruogba/Egbirhe Road near Okhuoromi in Oredo Council embarked on a peaceful protest over alleged destruction of their palm trees farm measuring over 11 acres and property including vehicles and equipment.
The allegation several protests against land grab, where they claimed that Ovbokhan Igbinovia, ordered the destruction and threatened to kill them if they went there again.
Speaking on behalf of the famers, Faith Alfa said: “We have been farming here for the past 14 years but in May, they came to our farm and destroyed our working materials, vehicle and other equipment. They also threatened to kill me if they see me in that farm again.
Confirming her claim, Operations Manager of Shalom Jare Ventures, Efosa Aguebor said: “Okhuoromi claim they got a court victory and went there to chase workers and other people away. They first went to chase the workers away and destroy the crops the next day.”
In a letter to Governor Godwin Obaseki, the company accused Igbinovia of taking the laws into his own hands.
But when contacted, Igbinovia denied the allegation, saying the land in question belonged to Okhuoromi people, as the court ruled and that he was not aware of the destruction of any farm.
Spokesman of the AIG Zone 5, Tijani Momoh, also confirmed that a petition on the issue was being investigated.