We Are Protesting to Save Nimo from Land Grabbers

By Michael Nnebife

It was like a war scene last Tuesday in Nimo, Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, when a long convoy of police, army, civil defence and vigilante personnel stormed the market place as some elements in the town embarked on a peaceful demonstration against what they described as the sale of their communal land by some elements at the helm of affairs in the town.

Speaking to newsmen after the protest was stopped by the security agencies who said the protesters did not get police clearance, even though the protesters insisted they did and produced documented evidence, the leader of the protesters, Barr Chux Okonkwo, a Lagos based lawyer and one-time chairman of the town union in Lagos, said the protest was staged to stop land grabbers from selling off the communal land known as Ana Owa.

The aggrieved members of the community displayed placards, some of which read, ”Ana Owa is not for sale”; ”Stop selling off our inheritance”; ”You are supposed to be protecting us, not selling our property”, among others.

Barr Okonkwo accused some leaders in the community of selling the town’s collective inheritance.

He said the land in question was got by conquest during a war many years ago, but being sold off today by some people in the community without ploughing the money into the development of the town.

His words, ‘They said they had realised N900 million from sales of the land, even though no one authorized them to sell it, and they now claim they have spent N1.2 billion which means we owe them about N300,000. They cannot even account for what they did with the funds.

‘That is why we want to protest, but you see the platoon of security men they brought to stop us. It is the same people that are selling off the land that are trying everything possible to stop us.’

One of the youths who led the protest, Mr Chigbo Aniedobe, accused some elements in the community of changing the name of the land from Ana Owa to Obodo Oma Estate, while at the same time selling a plot there for N3.1million.

He insisted that the protest was peaceful and was aimed at letting the state government and the world to know what was going on in the community. He expressed satisfaction that posterity would not blame them for keeping quite when they should have spoken out.

An elder of the town and chairman of Ochiagha Age Grade, Mr Nwafor Nkechi, said none of the town’s past leaders attempted to sell that land and wondered why it was being sold now.

While accusing the elements behind the sale of the land of intimidation of opposing voices, he alleged that they also confiscated a bus stop in front of the market built by his age grade and established a POS business there, claiming that they owned that space. He warned of what he termed the dire consequences of what was going on now in the community.

Fides learnt that the situation in the town had been tense before now owing to the issue in contention.