By Daniel Dafe
Against the background of protest staged by some segment of youths from Ogidiase Quarters of Ogwashi-Uku Community in Anocha South Local Government Area of Delta State, another segment of youths from the same area have dissociated itself from the protest.
This was disclosed on Tuesday by the Secretary-General of the Ogwashi-Uku Youths, Comrade Augustine Nkwo, dissociating the Ogwashi-Uku umbrella youth body, Ogwashi-Uku Youths Development Association (OYDA), from the protest carried out on Monday.
It will be recalled that a few members of the Agidiase Quarters in Ogwashi-Uku staged a protest in some areas of Ogwashi-Uku on Monday over the alleged fraudulent sale of farmlands located at Azagba Ogwashi-Uku, Edo Ogwashi-uku and Otulu Ogwashi-Uku.
The transaction from land speculators recently led to the suspension of some prominent chiefs in the kingdom by the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, HRM Obi Ifechukuwde Aninshi Okonjo II, who has a zero tolerance for illegal land sales in his kingdom.
In a statement signed and made available to journalists on Tuesday by the Obi’s media aide, Prince Greg Okwumbu, he said the incidents of Otulu Ogwashi-Uku over the past week have highlighted the importance and significance of Ogwashi-Uku to Asaba and Delta State in general.
“It appears that the close proximity of Ogwashi-Uku to Asaba and the lack of land for development in Asaba has put a serious pressure on Ogwashi-Uku.
“From records available, the traditional land tenure system in Ogwashi-Uku vests all land in the hands of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku who by tradition and custom is the Custodian, Trustee and Overlord of all land in the Kingdom.
“Following the tradition of his late father, HRM Obi Professor Chukwuka Aninshi Okonjo I, the present Obi of Ogwashi-Uku decided to stop all indiscriminate land sales.
“Letters sighted from the Obi in Council indicate that the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku has stated that rather than outright land sales, long term lease agreements can be explored for investors who agree to develop part of Ogwashi-Uku and or build factories that will create jobs,” he stated.
According to him, the “approach to the development of Ogwashi-Uku is in very sharp contrast with what has been happening in neighbouring communities such as Okpanam and Ibusa where land is sold by individuals and villages.
“It will appear that the rigid position of the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku, who himself is a developmental economist, just finishing up his doctoral degree in France, is creating anger amongst a minority group in Ogwashi-Uku who are hell-bent on selling off all Ogwashi-Uku communal lands that they can get their hands on.
“It seems from a sampling of opinions within the Ogwashi-Uku community that the vast majority of the people in Ogwashi-Uku accept the Obi’s position regarding land sales.
“At the recently concluded Izu Ani (Meeting of the Ogwashi-Uku people), the entire Ogwashi-Uku community endorsed the established land tenure system in Ogwashi-Uku which has been diligently guarded and protected by the current Obi of Ogwashi-Uku.
“The disjointed press release by some fringe elements in Agidiase Quarter, who appear to be confused as to the purpose of their press release, has been condemned by the vast majority of Ogwashi-Uku people and even the Diokpa in Agidiase quarter Diokpa Chad Rafua.”
Meanwhile, the Diokpa of the Agidiase Quarter, Diokpa Chad Rafua, had praised HRM Obi Ifechukwude Aninshi Okonjo II for his prudent management of Ogwashi-Uku lands and commended him for halting illegal land sales.
Prince Okwumbu said Rafau has endorsed the established land tenure system which vests the authority of land management to the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku as the custodian, trustee and overlord and said that this has been the tradition in Ogwashi-Uku (Eze Nwe Ani) for generations with the local Chiefs as appointed administrators to assist the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku in managing the vast farmlands.
Diokpa Rafua, he further noted, implored the Obi to continue to attract foreign investments into the community so that jobs can be created for the youths.
Okwumbu quoted HRM Obi Aninshi Okonjo II as expressing his appreciation for the statement from Diokpa Chad Rafua and assured him that he had filed numerous cases to stop illegal land sales within the Agidiase Quarter.
He disclosed that the Obi in Council had not approved any land sale since he assumed office and challenged anyone who had any iota of evidence to the contrary to produce such documents as proofs.
As to the protest by members of the Agidiase Quarter, HRM Obi Aninshi Okonjo II, Okwumbu said the Obi urged them to demonstrate their seriousness by channelling their protest directly to the tenants at Otulu to show their seriousness in condemning the attempt to take over Ogwashi-Uku land and request to the state government about autonomy.
Prince Okwumbu urged all members of the Ogwashi-Uku community to join hands to confront the external aggressors, who are trying to take parts of Ogwashi-Uku communal lands.
He pointed out that the few misguided members of the Agidiase Quarter, who carried out the protest, were agents who are known land speculators and were paid for the protest with recharge cards and a few monetary gain.