Where you are building your estate belongs to us not Emuhu Community, Umunede people tells Prince Okonye
The land dispute between the Chief Executive Officer, Prince Paradise Estate, Comrade Prince Emmanuel Okonye and the Idumu Esegbena / Ozoba Communities in Umunede, in Ika North East Local Government Area, Delta State has assumed another dimension as the Umunede Communities described Comrade Okonye as a land grabber .
The Umunede Communities which spoke through their representatives during a press briefing at the Agadagidi Civic Center, last Saturday, April 3, 2021 said that the said plots of land where Prince Okonye is currently building his Prince Paradise Estate belong to them and not Okonye family of Emuhu Community as speculated in the news.
The press briefing which was anchored by the Publisher, Ika Light Newspaper, Mr Wemdi Nwaham had in attendance, Chief Gabriel Egbule, the Oliha of Umunede, Chief Augustine Ikechukwu Aghaolor, the Igirigi of Umunede, Mr Tony Ngozi, President General, Umunede Progressive Union, UPU, Chief Ifeanyi Best Ikem, the Arum of Ille Nobu, Chief Celestine Eluehike,the Isierieze of Umunede, Elder Chukwuma Ofili, Mr Stephen Eluha, Mr Obi Ikechukwu, among other prominent Umunede people.
Chief Gabriel Egbule who was the first to address the press said, “Idumu Esegbena and Ozoba Communities in Umunede, Ika North East LGA were sometimes ago involved in a protracted land dispute with Emuhu Community in Ika South LGA, which they (Umunede) won up to the Supreme Court.
Chief Egbule disclosed that Idumu Esegbena/ Ozoba Communities land, lying on the right hand side of the Benin/Asaba Express Road when coming from Umunede, was sold by the people of Emuhu Community, Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area of the State to one Emmanuel Okonye who is now constructing Prince Paradise Estate on the illegally acquired land.
Chief Egbule who was former President General, Umunede Progressive Union,UPU said that the owner of the Prince Paradise Estate, Prince Emmanuel Okonye has been intimidating and attacking his Umunede people with police and thugs.
He further disclosed that the said land dispute with Emuhu community has been on since 1954.
In the words of Chief Egbule, “Following the conscious encroachment into our land, we decided to take the two families of Emuhu Community who were sharing common boundaries with us to court by filing a case at Agbor High Court in 1969. And the case came before one Justice Obi and the court gave judgement in favour of my people, the Idumu Esegbena and Ozoba Communities of Umunede”.
“As expected, the Emuhu people appealed to the Court of Appeal in Benin City and the case came up before a panel of three Judges headed by late Justice Omoyiode. But, after a protracted legal battle which was obviously delayed because the head of the panel judges fell ill and was flown abroad for treatment, we were again given victory in judgement of the Court of Appeal, Benin-City. Not satisfied with the Court of Appeal, Benin-City judgement, Emuhu people again appealed to the Supreme Court using late Chief Gani Fawhinmi as their lead counsel, who appealed to the Supreme Court that an appeal judgement ought to be given within three months but the Court of Appeal Benin- City delayed judgement for more than the speculated three months
“The Supreme Court, listened to the prayers of Fawehinmi and referred the case back to Court of Appeal and at the Court of Appeal, Benin-City, the presiding judge again awarded us victory by standing on the earlier judgement of the Court of Appeal.Gani Fawehinmi appealed again to the Supreme Court on the ground that the delayed judgement of the Court of Appeal Benin-City was quashed at the Supreme Court by referring the case back so there was no way the new judge can uphold the former judgement in this case”.
“Unfortunately, his people lost the case on technical grounds which they appealed to the Supreme Court where Idumu Esegbena and Ozoba Communities in Umunede finally got victory in 1994.
He futher stated, “After this final victory, one John Okonye who was farming pineapple in the said land then came to beg us to be our tenant by paying rent for the said land to enable him harvest and continue his pineapple plantation. And because of our kind nature and hospitality, we entered into agreement with him( John Okonye) which he was honouring until after four years that he breached the agreement. On enquiry from him, the tenant, John Okonye said he was asked to stop by the Emuhu Community that they own the land which led to another tussle that made the Dein of Agbor and the Obi of Umunede to set up panel of enquiry which Idumu Esegbena and Ozoba Communities in Umunede won and the Emuhu people were fined four goats.
“About four years ago, one Chief from Emuhu came to our Royal Majesty suggesting the selling of the disputed land to a housing estate developer , a request our Obi rejected after due consultations that Emuhu Community has no land there.Emuhu people went behind and illegally sold the disputed land to one Emmanuel Okonye, also known as, Prince Paradise. Apart from going about boasting and telling lies that he(Prince Okonye) wants to develop Ika land but Umunede people were against his developmental plan, the said Emmanuel Okonye has been attacking and intimidating Umunede people and that the security agencies have compromised in their duties.
He pointed out that Umunede people are never against development because they have given plots of land to Delta State Government to build Rest Park and also to the Federal Government for projects but was abandoned following the Goodluck Jonathan ouster as president of Nigeria.He said the over eight police officers allegedly from Zone 5, Benin-City brought by Prince Paradise almost murdered their new Arum, Chief Ifeanyi Best Ikem and shot his wife, therefore crippling her in the process.
He revealed, “the renewed land dispute took a new dimension when police officers drafted from Zone 5, pulled down the window burglary of Arum’s residential house on No. 113 Old Umunede/Agbor Road, then Old Lagos/Agbor Road, Umunede and forced themselves into his house.The officers who came in three vehicles on mufti numbering between five and six allegedly made unsuccessful efforts to dismantle the entrance burglary before scaling through the burgled window into the house but the Arum’s wife, Mrs. Ebere, prevented them from taking her husband away after several hours of struggling, when the officers allegedly opened fire on the wife on both legs before help could come from the community youths and family members. Again, Umunede people who went to their normal farm works were waylaid by Emmanuel Okonye’s thugs few days ago with all their farm tools and motorcycles taken away from them. And with the aide of the police the Umunede farmers were arrested on framed up charges of wanting to destroy Prince Paradise Estate, Emmanuel Okonye is building on the illegally acquired land.
On his part, Chief Augustine Aghaolor, a retired diplomat from United Nations , and the Igirigiri of Umunede Kingdom, said he has been involved in peace keeping even in foreign lands. He debunked the allegations by Emmanuel Okonye that he (Chief) Aghaolor led boys to destroy his blocks and other working materials.
While condemning what he described as the forceful method Emmanuel Okonye was using to claim Umunede land, he told him to stop using the police to harass and intimidate Umunede people.
Continuing he said, “I also want to advise investors that Emmanuel Okonye is deceiving them because the land does not belong to him. There’s no way he can re-write history.Shooting the wife of our Arum, crippling her will not be spared. We must fight for justice. Prince Okonye gangsterism method does not solve problem and it will lead him to nowhere.”
He condemned the invasion of the residence of the Arum and the shooting of his wife by armed men, saying that it was an attempted murder on the couple just as he warned that the police and whoever contracted them would not get away with the act.
The former UPU president general said no Umunede youth will go to Okonye for settlement when elders have given warning for them to keep away from what they have no accurate knowledge of.
“Prince Emmanuel Okonye should vacate our land. The land Okonye is building his Prince Paradise Estate belongs to Umunede people not Emuhu. Okonye is a land grabber, our people of Umunede will not allow him to grab our land,” Chief Aghaolor stated.
From right: Chief Gabriel Egbule, Chief Celestine Eluehike & Chief Augustine Aghaolor
From right: Mr. Tony Ngozi, Chief Eluehike & Chief Ifeanyi Ikem
Comrade Prince Emmanuel Okonye