•The land belongs to the federal govt — Council chairman
The people of Ugboluma in Angwa Ayegba Community, Idah Local Government Area of Kogi State have condemned the chairman of the council, Abu Odoma for demolishing of their houses without prior notice.
Narrating their ordeal, one of the victims and a retired police inspector, John Idakwo, told reporters that they were never notified about the demolition nor was their place ever marked for demolition until last week when he suddenly saw a tractor that came for the demolition.
He said, “Actually, what is happening, I’m not aware. There was no notice. There was no letter. There was no marking. Only that I just sat down at the front of my house and saw the caterpillar and they said I should leave, that they want to break the house.”
Despite his efforts to find out why the council wanted to render him homeless without prior information, “They said if we didn’t leave they would pull down the house on our heads. We talked that day and they boycotted the house but on Sunday (June 19), I just came back from church, not up to 30 minutes, I saw bulldozer and they said that the house must be removed and before I could say anything, they started pulling down part of my house.”
Idakwo said they told him that his house is part of the place they want to make fence for the aerodrome “but I never knew about it.”
The retired inspector of police who said he bought the land in 2012 lamented that “They didn’t even want to listen to me. Even the policeman who came with them, they all said the order is from above. They said it is from the government but even if it is from the government, the government has to say something.”
He lamented how he suffered for 35 years to build the house but “As it is now, I’m just staying in one side of the house that is remaining pending when I will get where to stay,” as “They said there would be no compensation, no replacement. They said the aerodrome has been there since the 1930s.”
Also speaking, one of the residents of the area whose house has also been mapped out for demolition narrated how they bought the land from the state government.
According to the victim who preferred not to disclose his identity due to his job, the government while selling the land to them years ago showed them the boundary between theirs and the one for the aerodrome, which is about three kilometres away.
He explained that the aerodrome land was mapped out by the paramount ruler of the Igala land in memory of his late father whom people used to visit by helicopter.
“I have not less than five plots of land there that I bought from the state and I have the papers. Somebody is living in my house. I do not live there because of my work but to my surprise, he called me that a bulldozer came and they were trying to demolish my neighbour’s house.
“I asked where they came from and he said they came from Abuja and I called the surveyor in the local government and he said they came from the Ministry of aviation and I called somebody in the aviation ministry but he said it was a lie. He said that they don’t have allocated a federal airport in Kogi State, not to talk of Idah.
“I called another person in the Kogi State ministry of land, he said that the activity is from the Ata of Igala, Alhaji Okpaluwa and the chairman of the local government, Hon. Abuh Odoma.”
The resident said he reached out to the local government chairman who said that the occupants of the land had encroached into the government land and the demolition order was from above.
According to him, “They have engulfed more than 200 houses there including about 35 plots of land a Catholic Church bought from the state there. Those places they engulfed means that they are taking them.”
However when contacted the Idah Local Council Chairman, Mr. Abuh Odoma, maintained that the land belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria, adding that the people encroached into the government land.
He said, “The land belongs to the federal government and the land was specifically kept for an aerodrome.
“Those people that are trying to do all those things encroached into the government land and the local government doesn’t have anything to do with it. It is the federal government’s work.”