From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, vowed to prosecute all land grabblers who took part in the selling of the repossessed 1229 hectares of land along the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road to serve as a deterrent to others.
He said with the repossession of the land by the state government, a strong signal had been sent that there is no more hiding place for land grabbers in the state, adding that his administration would not tolerate impunity and a reign of anarchy in the state
The governor who disclosed this during an inspection tour of the 1,229 hectares of land reclaimed by the state government, said his administration would recover every piece of land grabbed or illegally acquired from its rightful owners.
“If we allow such a situation to continue, there will be anarchy in Edo State. You can’t stay in your house and somebody comes and asks you to walk out because somebody else has sold your land because they have their private army.
“As a state, we can’t sit down and watch, allowing this level of impunity and anarchy. My administration will pursue every land grabber and ensure they return every land that is not their own to the rightful owners. Thank God I still have more than 24 months in office. I will rewrite the wrong by land grabbers.
“This area was acquired in 2017 and the whole area was a forest. We have evidence of a GIS map to show. These people know the government has acquired this land but in their regular manner, they just decided to ignore government ownership interest in the state. Behind here is a forest reserve area and the trees have been cut down, with the lands sold,” he added.
Obaseki disclosed that 22 persons were in police custody for alleged land grabbing, adding that his administration was gathering all the evidence of illegal sales of land and would ensure those culpable were prosecuted and made to refund the money to those they took money from.
“Moving forward with the new laws, nobody should put a block and commence building without finding out who the owner of that land is. Every community, individual and property owner should come and register their interest so that before anyone builds, we would see the evidence of the ownership of the land.
“Today, we have declared some of the land grabbers wanted and about 22 persons are in our custody. We are gathering all the evidence of illegal sales of land as we would prosecute all of them and ensure they refund the money to those they took the money from. They will surely payback,” he stressed.
Commenting on the plans to develop a new town in the area, the governor said, “In the next few weeks, we will be completing the enumeration, soil test, topographical services and begin to parcel the land, put in the infrastructure and do proper allocation as we prepare to develop a new town.
“The development of this new town will be open and transparent for all to key in as there will be public enlightenment about the new town, allowing young people to have access to the land in this area.”