Author Topic: Divided Over Land Ownership Tussle  (Read 3863 times)

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Divided Over Land Ownership Tussle
« on: July 01, 2013, 09:11:57 AM »
Relationship between Obosi community in Idemili North local council and Onitsha, both in Ananmbra State, has not been known to be cordial over the ages.  Obosi indigenes claim to be the land owners where Onitsha is now located.

The age-long frosty re

lationship between the two communities is such that in Anambra today, there is a coinage said to be an admonition either issued to Onitsha by Obosi or vice versa. After an agreement entered into by two or more parties, one of the parties with a feeling that the other party would go against the agreement would usually tell him to ‘please take note of a particular portion of the agreement, in case of tomorrow as Onitsha told Obosi’.

However, later on, it was argued that it was indeed Obosi that drew Onitsha people’s attention to the portion of the agreement and so in other not to credit the saying to a wrong party a party would rather say: ‘please take particular note of this portion of the agreement in case of tomorrow as O told O’. It was said that this saying had its origin from an agreement between Obosi and Onitsha over boundaries of the two that sprawled over a long stretch of land.

Nevertheless, that agreement was never adhered to by one of the parties hence the perpetual squabble over land between the two.

That animosity reared its ugly head up penultimate week when Anambra people woke up on Monday to hear stories of a clash between the youths of the two communities. By the time the cloud cleared, 17 people had been matcheted and one bus, allegedly belonging to Onitsha Vigilante service was burnt.

The youths armed with dangerous weapons had barricaded the Onitsha- Owerri Expressway during the bloody clash. The fracas caused a heavy traffic on the road until the police and other security agencies arrived the scene and took control of the situation. Several of the youths inflicted with matchet wounds as well as other injuries during the clash were by last week, receiving treatment in various hospitals.

The clash took place in front of the Metallurgical Institute. During the fight, Obosi youths allegedly burnt a Mitsubishi bus, belonging to Onitsha youths and several persons  sustained various degrees of matchet cut injuries from both sides.

An eye witness recounted the story of the clash thus: “I was in a bus traveling to Owerri, when we got to Metallurgical school gate, some youths came out of the bush, armed with cutlasses, with palm fronds tied around their heads. They came out of the Expressway and shortly after that, another bus fully loaded with armed youths also ran into them, fighting ensued, immediately, the bus was set ablaze by the other faction and we began to run for our dear lives. Up till the time team of policemen arrived, some of us were yet to recover from the shock and we didn’t know who the boys were and what they were fighting for. It was after the police dispersed them with teargas that we continued our journey” he said.

The Onitsha Area Commander, Mr. Benjamin Wordu who led team of policemen to the scene confirmed that the two communities have been having cold war over the ownership of land, adding that the police was able to pull all the youths out of the land to enable peace talks. According to him there was no record of death but a bus belonging to Onitsha youths was burnt by angry Obosi youths, and leaders of the two communities had been charged to call their youths to order, to maintain peace and stop further breakdown of law and order.

Incidentally, both traditional rulers of Obosi, Igwe Chidubem Iweka and Obi of Onitsha Nnaemeka Achebe were in a meeting in Awka and could not comment.

When Daily Independent met the Palace Secretary of Obi of Onitsha, Mr. Agusiobo Nwolisa over the issue, he was rather hostile recreating the animosity that had characterized the relationship between Obosi and Onitsha. Told that the reporter had come to find out what led to the latest clash between Onitsha youths and Obosi youths, Nwolisa quipped: “I am not aware of any clash”.

When he was reminded that the clash was widely reported in daily newspapers, Nwolisa replied angrily: “this man won’t you leave me alone? You can see that I don’t want to talk and you are pestering me”. The reporter again asked: I am aware that the dispute between Obosi and Onitsha   dated back to history and had been subject of several court cases and I thought the courts would have settled the cases by now. But he replied; “The cases have been decided by the courts, go and read the judgments”.

But the Traditional Prime Minister, Iyasele Obosi, Chief Ernest Ojiaku situated the latest clash thus: “At Ogbodogbo, behind and in front of Federal Metallurgical Institute, Onitsha-Owerri road, Obosi, some Onitsha youths went there with bulldozer, destroying crops and buildings that we had there. When our people heard that, the youths went there and unfortunately there was a clash where by a vehicle was burnt. We thank God for security men that intervened and prevented the youths from going out of revolt”. Tracing the history of the disputed land, Ojiaku added: “The Metallurgical Institute is in Obosi land. It is act of belligerency, for Onitsha youths to have invaded the land and destroyed our property. To tell you that that land belongs to Obosi, we still have Iweka buildings erected about five decades ago at that site. They are still Iweka property”.

Reminded that the Palace Secretary of Obi of Onitsha said dispute over land between the two communities have been settled by courts, Ojiaku replied: “There is nothing like court judgments in Onitsha-Obosi land case. Justice Umezinwa gave a judgment in 1981 which nullified every judgment obtained by Onitsha because according to the learned Judge, Onitsha people obtained their judgment by fraud”.

He expressed shock that Onitsha people are laying claim to Obosi land stating that even the entire Fegge comprising St. John, Otu- Obosi and St. James Catholic Church where the Queen Mother was baptized belonged to Obosi people.

In fact, according to him, the British Colonial Office in its bid to recognize the effort of Eze Iweka 1 who built the road that stretches from Obosi to Onitsha main market named the road Iweka Road. But he noted that the face-off between Onitsha and Obosi over ownership of land has been a lingering issue and that it was a fraud on the part of the Palace Secretary of Obi of Onitsha to deny knowledge of the recent clash.

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Divided Over Land Ownership Tussle
« on: July 01, 2013, 09:11:57 AM »

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