Land Ownership – For years, the rivalry between a businessman, Chief Alex Ikpeazu and some powers that be in Ika South Local Government Area, Delta State, has been over the control of Lexiano Market. Though Ikpeazu is equipped with the Certificate of Occupancy, C of O, but his opposers have not hidden their determination to take over what they referred to as Agbor Neighbourhood Market.
In 2015 the fierce rivalry moved from threat to demolition on 4th of April 2017, with both claiming ownership of the expanse of land measuring over 7051, 579 square meters located in the core area of Agbor. Ikpeazu proved he legally acquired the land. He has C of O, has been paying his ground rent and his tenant also carrying on business in the premises without unnecessary interference from anybody until 2015, the former Chairman of Ika South LGA, Hon Fred Ofume was quoted to have said the land at the Government Reservation Area, GRA, was acquired by Ikpeazu illegally with forged document and used as private market.
The supremacy row took off in 2015. According to a letter dated April 13, 2017, titled ‘’Malicious Damage of the Properties of Mr. Alex Ikpeazu by Fred Ofume and Others’’ signed by Barr O. Ehianuka and addressed to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIGP, where he lamented that despite the directive to investigate the matter, heavily armed thugs have taken over his property and the source of his livelihood.
The letter stated that Ikpeazu has been dehumanized, chased out of his office while Ofume and his thugs visited the tenants daily to forcefully traumatize his tenants by extorting them, and in some cases cart away their properties.
According to the Solicitor, the development informed why his Client immediately petitioned the office of the Commissioner of Police, Delta State who swung into action and in his report stated that Ofume and his cohorts had no interest in the property, rather resorting to self help which was condemned for all intents and purposes by the CP who also advised him to follow due process on the matter.
According to Ehianuka, his Client was surprised again on the April 4, 2017 when the Ofume stormed the premises “along with Mr Francis Eki, Mr. Chuks Irabor and Francis Ogini with several thugs carrying sophisticated weapons and chased away the tenants carrying on their lawful businesses in the premises, demolished our client’s wall fence, structures and stole gates worth over N50 million with bulldozers’’
‘’Mr. Ofume and his cohorts did the condemnable act with hired policemen without the knowledge of the DPO, Agbor. After the unlawful invasion, Ofume planted fierce looking thugs with sophisticated weapons at the entrance of our Client’s premises with an outstanding order to kill our Client if seen within the vicinity. Apart from the threat, Fred Ofume and his collaborators have mounted a signpost at the entrance of our Clients premises with the inscription, ‘’Local Government.’’
The petition which has dragged Ofume to Police headquarters in Abuja appealed to the AIG not only to investigate the matter urgently, prosecute Ofume and his collaborators to serve as deterrent to others who see themselves as tin gods, or those who think they can put laws into their hands since Ofume is boasting that he is untouchable, especially when no action was taken by the Delta State Police Command ‘
However, Ofume responded that for the past four years, Ikpeazu has been collecting revenue from the market and no penny was remitted into the council’s treasury. Ikpeazu has been charging traders in the market arbitrarily.
The matter took another dimension last week when over 50 youths protested with placards with various inscriptions such as ‘’Ikpeazu Leave Our Land’ “Ministry of Land Stop Further Measurement of the Land’‘ “It Is Government Reservation Area’’ ‘’Leave Ofume and Our Other Leaders Out of the Matter’’ and others to the Ministry of Lands and Survey and House of Assembly, Asaba with seven-point demand by Agbor Community Union.
According to the demand signed by by Mr Lawrence Onyeche, Acting President General and Dr Ugboh Onyemaechi, Secretary-General, it outlined that following the unwholesome activities of Ikpeazu on Agbor GRA, Agbor people vehemently frown against the purported allocation of Agbor land by the military Administration of John Inienger to Ikpeazu, noting that the further encroachment of the said GRA land by Ikpeazu should be checked.
Also they said the conversion of the said GRA land originally reserved for government projects to a private marketplace should be stopped, the continuous harassment of Ofume and two other staff by Ikpeazu should be stopped, and that the sitting of a private market by Ikpeazu on a land earmarked for the Agbor trauma center being established by the Delta State Government should be stopped.
Others are that the further deprivation of the Ika South Local Government Council from the revenue that is originally the entitlement of the Local Government should be collected while the Delta State Government should revoke the purported C of O assigned to Ikpeazu and use it for purpose it was originally assigned to government in the interest of peace and to avoid breakdown of law and order in Agbor kingdom.
Findings revealed that after thorough investigation by the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Police at Abuja, it was discovered that the property which is covered by C of O and Governor’s Consent belongs to Ikpeazu. ‘’That Ofume and his co-travelers are criminally liable for malicious damage and conduct likely to cause breach of peace. Ika South LGA is trespassing in the property and attempting to build structures on the said land.
But Ikpeazu while reacting to the protest said the scantily sponsored demonstration by the agents of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led government against my legally acquired land at Agbor GRA, (covered by genuine and verifiable C of O as well as governor’s consent), is clannish and very unfortunate.
‘’Land ownership with government approved building plan. They claim I will not be allowed to own the land which has boundary with the land acquired by Chief Jim Ovia of Agbor kingdom since I’m not an Agbor indigene. The LGA Council together with some Agbor thugs attacked my staff and destroyed my market. Now they have sponsored some youths to demonstrate against me because I insist on remaining a proud member of All Progressive Party, APC’’ Ikpeazu posited.