Letter to The Governor of Delta State
OGHARA CENTRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
UGBEWE QUARTERS, OPPOSITE CENTRAL BAPTIST CHURCH
HE Senator (Dr.) Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa, July 26, 2016.
Executive Governor of Delta State,
Your Excellency Sir,
FORCEFUL ANNEXATION AND ACQUISITION OF OUR LANDS BY THE NIGERIAN NAVY, LOGISTICS COMMAND IN OKURHO, OGHARA DELTA STATE.
Oghara Centre for Social Justice is a cultural organisation in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State. We exist to promote our culture, traditions and socio-political and economic interests of Oghara community. Our people are farmers, fishermen, and our land is our mainstay and source of income.
We use this opportunity to register the ordeal of Oghara people on the unlawful possession of our lands in Okurho, by the Nigerian Navy, Logistics Command. We had earlier on 30th of July, 2015 drawn your attention to this issue through a letter signed by HRM Noble Oyibo Eshemitan, FCA. Uku Oghara n’Amen Orefe 111, Ovie of Oghara.
2. And hence we write to bring to your notice, your Excellency Sir, the illegal and forceful annexation and acquisition of our lands by the Nigerian Navy, Logistics Command Stationed in Oghara in Delta State.
3.Your Excellency Sir, the land in dispute was originally 500m x 500m allocated to the Mobile Police in Oghara, Delta State but was eventually ceded to the Nigerian Navy Logistics Command after the Mobile Police were relocated to another place and after due compensation to our people by the Delta State government.
4. By a bewildering move, the Nigerian Navy Logistics Command has gone ahead to construct a fence far and beyond the original measure of land (now covering up to 6 square kilometers in excess, as against the 500x500metres of lands) allocated to them, and have chased away law-abiding members of our community whose source of income is tied to the pieces of land that the Navy have annexed. Not only do these lands bear cash crops like Palm Trees, Mangoes, Kolanut, the lands represent and hold our ancestral values since most of our people who have passed on have been interred on those lands.
5. Via several overtures spanning 5 years, the Oghara Centre for Social Justice, has tried to engage the Nigerian Navy Logistics Command, through our respected Royal Father, the courts and through our sons and daughters, on the need for the Navy and the community to amicably resolve the land dispute.
6. But the Nigerian Navy is unyielding, and has eventually forced us to appeal to you Your Excellency, as father of Delta State and the number one Chief-Security-Officer of our state, to prevail on the Nigerian Navy to return our illegally and forcefully annexed lands to us.
7. We bear witness to Section 43 of the Nigerian Constitution which protects our rights to acquire and own immovable land and property anywhere, and confirm that the Nigerian Navy has been less than magisterial and circumspect with their attention to Section 44 of the Nigerian Constitution which spells out the modus operandi for the state to acquire land from communities.
8. The situation in the Niger Delta is tensed up enough your Excellency. Because we are peace-loving and law abiding citizens who do not want to add to the existing tension in the area, we implore you most respectfully to order the Nigerian Navy to do the following:
(i) Move back to the area of land initially allocated them by the Delta State government
(ii) Tear down the fence covering areas far and above 500m x 500m initially allocated to the Navy
(iii) Initiate proceedings to pay damages and compensation to our community members who have suffered loss and trauma for the infraction and trespass on our lands
(iv) Refrain from further despoiling and destroying cash crops on our lands which form the mainstay of income for our people.
9. Your Excellency, kindly be assured of our warm regards and our continued work for peace and unity in Delta State and Nigeria at large.
Chief Stephen Egbivwie, Oghara Centre for Social Justice
Tony Omene, Oghara Elite Forum
The Rev David Ugolor, Coordinator, OCFSJ.
Cc: Speaker Delta State House of Assembly
Cc: HRM Ovie of Oghara
Cc: Erhiatake Ibori- Member National Assembly
Cc: Chairman Ethiope South-West LGA