A youth body in Delta State, the Ogwashi-Uku Youth Development Association (OYDA), has dissociated itself from a protest staged by members of Agidiase Quarters over an alleged sale of land in their communities.
The Secretary General of OYDA, Comrade Augustine Nkwo, in a statement on Monday, dissociated members of his group from the protests, saying, the protesters complaints over the unauthorised sale of farmlands located in Azagba Ogwashi-Uku, Edo Ogwashi-Uku and Otulu Ogwashi-Uku communities was uncalled for.
Some members of the Agidiase quarters in Ogwashi-Uku had earlier staged a protest to register their disapproval over what they termed “brazen and fraudulent sale” of their farmlands.
The protesters said the illegal land sale from land speculators had recently led to the suspension of some prominent chiefs in the Kingdom by the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, who it was said had declared zero tolerance for illegal land sales.
But Nkwo, dismissing their claims said there was no despute over the lands at Azagba Ogwashi-Uku, Edo Ogwashi-Uku and Otulu Ogwashi-Uku communities.
According to him, with the latest development, the community people said, the incidents in Otulu Ogwashi-Uku over the past weeks have highlighted the importance and significance of Ogwashi-Uku to Asaba and Delta State in general, noting that the close proximity of Ogwashi-Uku to Asaba and the lack of land for development in Asaba has put a serious pressure on Ogwashi-Uku.
Also reacting in a statement, the Diokpa of the Quarters, Diokpa Chad Rafua, praised HRM Obi Ifechukwude Aninshi Okonjo II for his prudent management of Ogwashi-Uku lands and commended him for stopping illegal land sales.
He endorsed the established land tenure system which vests the authority of land management to the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku as the custodian, trustee and overlord and said that this has been the tradition in Ogwashi-Uku (Eze Nwe Ani) for generations with the local Chiefs as appointed administrators to assist the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku in managing the vast farmlands.
While the statement informed that the Diokpa had implored the Obi to continue to attract foreign investment into the community so jobs can be created for the youth, it said Obi Ifechukuwde Aninshi Okonjo II had also expressed his appreciation for the statement from Diokpa Chad Rafua and assured him that he had filed numerous cases to stop illegal land sales within the Agidiase Quarter.
He further stated that the Obi in Council had not approved any land sale since he assumed office and challenged anyone who had any iota of evidence to the contrary to produce any documents.
As to the protest by members of the Agidiase Quarter, HRM Obi Ifechukwude Aninshi Okonjo II urged them to demonstrate their seriousness by channelling their protest directly to the tenants at Otulu to show them their seriousness in their condemnation of their attempt to take over Ogwashi-Uku land and request to the State Government about autonomy.
Similarly, Prince Greg Okwumbu in a statement released from the Obi’s palace urged all members of the Ogwashi-Uku community to join hands to confront the external aggressors, who he said were trying to take parts of Ogwashi-Uku communal lands.
He acknowledged that every community around the world can have internal differences but usually unite to confront external parties.
In his statement, he pointed out that the few members of the Agidiase Quarter who protested were agents he alleged to be known land speculators and were allegedly paid for their protest with recharge cards and a few thousand naira each.
He claimed that, the protesters could only muster not more than 50 people out of the close to 200,000 Ogwashians in the Kingdom, which he said showed the popularity of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku and his support amongst the public.
It was said that, from the records available, the traditional land tenure system in Ogwashi-Uku vests all land in the hands of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku who by tradition and custom is the Custodian, Trustee and Overlord of all land in the Kingdom.
As narrated: “Following the tradition of his late father, HRM Obi Professor Chukwuka Aninshi Okonjo I, the present Obi of Ogwashi-Uku decided to stop all indiscriminate land sales.
“Letters sighted from the Obi in Council indicate that the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku has stated that rather than outright land sales, long term lease agreements can be explored for investors who agree to develop part of Ogwashi-Uku and or build factories that will create jobs.
“This approach to the development of Ogwashi-Uku is in very sharp contrast with what has been happening in neighbouring communities such as Okpanam and Ibusa where land is sold by individuals and villages.
“It will appear that the rigid position of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku who himself is a developmental economist just finishing up his doctorate degree in France is creating anger amongst a minority group in Ogwashi-Uku who are hell bent on selling off all Ogwashi-Uku communal land that they can get their hands on.
“It seems from a sampling of opinions within the Ogwashi-Uku community that the vast majority of the people in Ogwashi-Uku accept the Obi’s position regarding land sales.
“At the recently concluded Izu Ani (meeting of the Ogwashi-Uku people), the entire Ogwashi-Uku community endorsed the established land tenure system in Ogwashi-Uku which has been diligently guarded and protected by the current Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
The Ogwashi-Uku faulted an earlier statement from those termed disjointed press release by some fringe elements in Agidiase quarter who appear to be confused as to the purpose of their press release has been condemned by the vast majority of Ogwashi-Uku people and even the Diokpa in Agidiase quarter Diokpa Chad Rafua.