- About 90 buildings affected
- Government has yet to pay compensation to victims
- Victims claimed court order exist, stopping the state gov. from evicting them
The Edo state government on Thursday demolished about 90 houses in the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road area of Benin City, the State capital saying the moves were meant to reclaim 1,229 hectares of land meant for the development of a new town project in the city.
The government had imposed a 24-hour curfew in the affected area on Wednesday evening, saying the move was to tackle insecurity in the area.
“Government is conducting a security operation in the area and warns members of the communities to steer clear of the Obazagbon to Ogheghe axis of the road, so as not to endanger themselves, said a government statement.
However, residents of the affected area were shocked to see bulldozers and other heavy equipment accompanied by heavy security arrive at the community on Thursday to start the massive demolition exercise.
Some affected residents told NOHR that there is a valid court order stopping the state government from demolishing the buildings.
NOHR check revealed that Justice Veestee Eboreime had on August 4, 2022, in a suit marked B/61/22 ruled in favour of elders and leaders of Oke-Oroma community and restrained the Edo government from further trespassing on, bulldozing, or developing the land in dispute situate and lying at Oke-Oroma Village, Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area, Edo State with an area of 714.750 hectares or doing anything whatsoever on the land in dispute that is inconsistent with the rights of Claimants/Applicants pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
In the Suit filed by Gaius Emokpae and five others, Justice Eboreime also granted an Interlocutory Injunction restraining the state government from taking possession of the disputed land at Oke-Oroma Village.
Addressing journalists in the government house yesterday, the Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare said “The land was acquired in 2017 for the new town project but had been encroached upon by land speculators. The area repossessed used to be the Ogba Forest Reserve at the time of the acquisition.
“The repossession exercise is part of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s renewed campaign against land-grabbing in the state, aimed at restoring sanity in land administration in the state,” he said.