Illegal demolition: Edo community fingers Secretary of Benin Traditional Council, Frank Irabor, other chiefs

29 Aug 2022

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Caption: Protesters from the Ulegun Community at the Government House, in Benin City

…seeks speedy govt intervention to end intimidation, harassment

Indigenes of Ulegun Community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State have indicted the Secretary of Benin Traditional Council, Frank Irabor and other chiefs in the illegal demolition of over 80 houses in their community, calling for the urgent intervention of the government to end the intimidation, harassment and total disregard for the rule of law.

The community had, yesterday, protested the alleged demolition of several houses in their community, as well as arrest and maiming of their Village Head (Enogie), Sunday Eghosasere Omoregie, and the community’s Chief Priest (Ohen), Philip Uwuoroya, by a group of chiefs, led by Frank Irabor.

The protesters made up of land developers, women, leaders and youths in the community, among others, took their protest to the Government House, where they called on the state government to intervene and rescue them from the hands of those they described as “tormentors.”

The community lamented that the dastardly act prosecuted by Frank Irabor and his co-travelers has left many residents homeless, inflicting pains and sufferings on the people, expressing worry that the state may soon plunge into crisis if nothing is done to curtail these excesses and penchant for illegality.

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The Secretary of Ulegun Community, Peter Aigbe, therefore, called on Governor Godwin Obaseki to immediately step in and assist affected members of the community to seek justice.

He explained that the land rightly belongs to the Ulegun Community, adding, “Our community has always won every case regarding the land since 1974. From the palace of Oba Akenzua, down to the High Court, Appeal and Supreme Courts.”

The secretary revealed that over 80 houses had so far been demolished by their alleged tormentors, calling on Governor Obaseki to carry out a thorough investigation on the true ownership of the disputed lands, and arrest and prosecute those allegedly behind the heinous act.

While decrying the arrest of her son, another member of the community and mother of the Enogie of Ulegun, Rose Omoregie, said that there had not been infighting in the community until the land dispute and appealed to the state government to help restore peace in the community.

“This land dispute between the Ulegun community and Ikhiri community started in 1974 before the present Enogie was born. His grandfather won the case against the Ikhiri community in the court, his father also won in the court and he also won the case against the Ikhiri community. There was never a time, the Ulegun community allocated parcels of land to any highly placed personality,” she reiterated.

However, Irabor, while speaking to a local radio station in his reaction to the demolition, said the land belonged to the Oba of Benin.

Receiving the protesters, representative of Edo State Governor and Chief of Staff, Hon. Osaigbovo Iyoha, appealed for calm among the protesters over the demolition of their properties, promising speedy investigation and prosecution of culpable persons.