The prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has disclosed that it recently received a troubling petition from the Obeagu Awkunanaw community in Enugu State. The petition outlines a protracted land dispute and highlights the recent unlawful demolitions conducted by the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA).
In response to the community’s impassioned call for justice and the revelations made by former Governor Sen. Dr. Jim Nwobodo, HURIWA has strongly condemned the actions and called for a comprehensive investigation into the matter.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, HURIWA revealed that the petition from the Obeagu community provided a comprehensive account of the historical context of the dispute, alleging a flagrant violation of their rights and a disregard for due process.
“The core issue revolves around a land acquisition proposal made by Sen. Dr. Jim Nwobodo during his tenure as Governor of Anambra State in the 1980s. The land, initially intended for the Anambra State University of Science and Technology, has become the focal point of a heated dispute involving the state government and private entities.
“According to Sen. Dr. Jim Nwobodo’s remarks to the press on Friday, February 28, 2020, as published in Vanguard Newspaper on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the proposed acquisition during his tenure was for the public interest, specifically aimed at establishing a state university. He contested the validity of the Official Gazette supposedly signed in 1986, citing false information, including the incorrect name of the Military Administrator at the time. The former Governor also questioned the authenticity of a survey plan created in 1985 for a university that was established after the creation of Enugu State in 1991”.
HURIWA noted that the Obeagu community’s petition highlights complexities in the dispute, uncovering discrepancies in land transactions, revocation notices, and the issuance of certificates of occupancy. The human rights group expressed deep concern over the alleged collaboration to unlawfully acquire and develop the contested land, leading to the recent demolition of houses within the Centenary City.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the Enugu State Government’s involvement in a consent judgment with a private developer in 2023, despite pending legal challenges, HURIWA emphasized the urgent need for a fair and impartial inquiry. “This inquiry should delve into the circumstances surrounding the demolitions and the questionable legal maneuvers that led to the consent judgment”. The group strongly condemned ECTDA’s actions as lawless and reckless, underscoring the importance of upholding the rule of law and respecting the judicial process.
HURIWA acknowledged the Obeagu community’s commitment to supporting laudable government projects and stressed their call for a thorough investigation to uncover any hidden interests or conspiracies behind the illegal demolitions. The human rights group urged Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah to institute a panel of inquiry to unravel the truth and hold accountable those responsible for the demolition of houses in the Centenary City.
In conclusion, HURIWA called for a prompt and transparent resolution of the land dispute, ensuring justice for the Obeagu Awkunanaw community. The human rights group pledged to closely monitor developments in the case, advocate for the protection of citizens’ rights, and work towards a fair and equitable resolution that respects the principles of justice and the rule of law.