Delta community protests land acquisition by govt

Members of the Ajaji community in Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, on Wednesday, protested the alleged illegal acquisition of the community’s land by the state government.

The protesters, among whom were elderly men, besieged the disputed land and compelled the contractor to stop work by carrying placards with various inscriptions, such as, ‘Our support for government should not be a curse to us’, ‘Ajaji loves peace and order’, ‘Leave our land alone, our land is our heritage’, and ‘Okowa give us justice’, among others.

The Odogwu of the community, Prince Ugo Chima, who led the protesters to the site, said the community was pained to observe that the land in question had been leased to a private company contrary to the provisions of the Land Use Act.

He stated, “About two years ago, our community was invited to the groundbreaking for a farm project at the forest reserve by the state government. Sadly as the event progressed, it became evident that our community, which owns about 90 per cent of the land, was not recognised and they also went ahead to encroach upon another land outside the reserve area.

“Thereafter, there was no further communication between us and the government/operator of the project. Later, we observed that a company, Northsworthy Investments, had started clearing the land.

“Most disturbing is the fact that through the seemingly persistent act of illegal acquisition of our land, our people, who are predominantly farmers, are being dispossessed of their main source of livelihood with the attendant effects on the community’s economy.”

(The Punch)