Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Anambra State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions headed by Hon. Emeka Aforka has sued for amicable resolutions of land disputes in the state.
This advocacy for peace is as a result of the plethora of petitions brought before the committee by Okpuno community in Awka-South local government area and some other land dispute related petitions and complaints.
Making a case for peace to reign between land owners and the state government while critically observing the land issue concerning Okpuno community, the committee chairman said that from the submissions of the parties, there was an acquisition of lands during the administration of Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife in Okpuno area.
Thereafter, the administration of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju revoked the said acquisition and returned same to the land owners. He said the commissioner’s submissions showed that the issue of global acquisition came up in 2006 which subsisted till date.
Hence, the committee on public petitions however admonished parties involved to maintain peace and not resort to jungle justice even as he assured them that the committee would search for relevant documents pertaining to the matter and all those involved, to resolve it without bickering.
The commissioner for lands Hon. Bonaventure Enemali told the Committee that the Ministry of Lands followed all due processes of land acquisition and did not involve itself in any form of illegalities because of the delicate and sensitive nature of land matters.
Enemali said the ministry would furnish the committee with the details it needed to broker peace in the community but the problem according to him was that land owners got divided over sharing formula of compensations and other benefits.
This, he said, led to the appointment of multiple attorneys by different groups from the same village on the same plots of lands. He said that in order to address issues of multiple ownership of land, the ministry got different groups with claims of ownership to do an undertaking. Such strategy according to him has tremendously helped in resolving most land disputes in the state.
Meanwhile, counsel to Okpuno community Barr. Mike Ikeegbunam opined that he has confidence in the committee to give justice to the people of Okpuno community. He said Okpuno community would not be intimidated by the antics of those trying to dispossess them of their landed property.
The committee on public petitions however adjourned the matter to a later date to enable it to source for more information for onward resolution of the land matter.