…vows to arrest, prosecute fleeing land-grabbers
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Tuesday, met with community members and other stakeholders over the 1229 hectares of land repossessed from land grabbers for the state’s new town development project, reassuring that the government will compensate persons with authentic claims to landed properties in the repossessed area.
Obaseki met with Ogheghe, Obayantor 1, Obagie ‘N’ Evbuosa, Okoroma communities including elders, traditional rulers and members, among others, at John Odigie-Oyegun Public Service Academy, Benin City.
Obaseki said the campaign is not to punish or drive the people of these communities away but to stop land grabbing activities in Edo State, adding that the government was committed to improving land administration and restoring sanity to the built environment in the state.
He said, “Our responsibility as a government is to ensure peace and order in the state and stop people from taking laws into their hands. The role of government is to create an environment for law and order while the people obey these laws."
Decrying the years-long disregard for the Land Use Act enacted by the government since 1979 to control and regulate the built environment, Obaseki said, “Without following laid down rules, people started building indiscriminately, creating urban slums across the state. Our administration came to correct these acts.”
The governor continued: “In 2017, we acquired this land measuring 1,227 hectares. We flew across the land as we launched our GIS but in three years, the land was encroached and despite several warnings, people ignored us and continued their illegal activities. People acquired and built indiscriminately without observing the laid down procedures for building. They even encroached on our forest reserves.
“What we are doing is to protect the state and its people from land grabbers. I didn't bring myself into power, people voted for me and the action my administration has taken is to protect them and restore law and order in the building environment.”
“We must arrest and prosecute land grabbers in the state. We have arrested some and about eight others are still at large. But we will find them even if they travel out of the country; we will arrest and make them refund the money they collected from their victims. We have their details and no matter where they are, we will get them and bring them to book,” he reassured.
According to him, “We have to stop land grabbers in Edo State. Communities must register with the government and show the government their plans which must agree with our plans before you start selling the land. We want to make Edo State peaceful and interesting to investors.
“We are trying to improve security, road infrastructure, create jobs and industries as people will not do business in a troubled environment. We are not trying to take peoples land but to restore law and order in the building environment.
“We must collaborate to fight these people and not allow this act to continue in Edo State or else, we will not be safe in the state.”