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End of the Road for Land Grabbers as Edo Govt Reclaims 1229 Hectares of Land

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By Aiworo S. Osahon

Land grabbing is the illegal (sometimes forceful) acquisition of land, to be used on a permanent, seasonal or cyclical basis without the owner’s consent.

This manifests in different forms resulting in a range of negative outcomes including loss of life, loss of income, displacement, loss of livelihoods, amongst others.

In Edo State, this illegal action has been a recurring problem, and the Edo State Government has declared war on land grabbers in order to stop the needless loss of lives and property and restore sanity to the affected communities in the State.

Over the years, land grabbing has generated a lot of crises and tension in Edo State, causing setbacks to the development of affected communities. It is on record that several communities have been submerged in this turmoil as opposing groups engaged in hot battles over land ownership.

This ugly development has led to loss of lives and property as some people have been maimed in the process. Some of the communities where land grabbing has recently gained prominence include Oke-Oroma in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area, Amagba, Obazagbon and Obagie-Nevbosa communities.

There have been reported cases of violent land grabbing in many communities as claims and counter-claims of victimization and unprovoked attacks by assailants who were allegedly armed with guns, machetes and other dangerous weapons. In the process, some houses were either destroyed or burnt down, vehicles set ablaze while innocent people were attacked with others terrorizing and others fleeing their homes for safety.

In the bid to tackle this menace, the Edo State Government in February, 2022, inaugurated an 8-man Private Property Protection Committee to improve land administration in the State. This measure was aimed at restoring sanity in the State and usher in peace and harmony to the various communities.

To enforce the government’s stance against land grabbing, Governor Godwin Obaseki also secured the deployment of the Special Police Squad drafted to Benin to work with the Government and Edo State Police Command to check the activities of land grabbers.

According to the Governor, “These are well-trained men of the Nigeria Police Force drafted into the squad that will work closely with Edo State Police Command and Edo State Government over the next few months to check the incidence of illegal sales of land and the activities of land grabbers in the State.”

He added: “The committee we have set up already has a lot of cases before it. There are many cases under investigation and we have declared some of them wanted. With this Special Force, we will go to the communities to recover all government land including those belonging to government schools.

“For people who have bought land illegally, particularly government land, we will recover all the lands. We will get all the land grabbers out and prosecute them all to serve as examples to others.”

In view of the foregoing, on Wednesday, September 28, the Edo State Government announced a 24-hour curfew in Obazagbon to Ogheghe axis to conduct a security exercise that has seen the reclamation of land measuring 1229 hectares along the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road for the development of a new town.

The land was acquired in 2017 for the new town project but had been encroached upon by land speculators.

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