Anger as Obaseki ‘lied’ with security to demolish buildings in Benin

By Jethro Ibileke

Knocks, criticisms have trail Edo State Government’s repossession of landed properties measuring about 1229 hectares along Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road area of Benin City, the State capital.

The victims of demolition expressed anger over government’s deception that it imposed curfew in the area to tackle the problem security, only to demolish their buildings.

The government had in a statement Wednesday evening, by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, imposed a 24-hour cofew in the affected area.

It added in the statement that the curfew was to “make way for the conduct of security exercise in the affected areas.”

The statement added: “Government is conducting a security operation in the area and warns members of the communities to steer clear of the Obazagbon to Ogheghe axis of the road, so as not to endanger themselves.

“Residents in the area are advised to stay indoors as the government embarks on the security exercise.”

Ogie advised motorists and pedestrians in the area to use alternative routes, warning that “anyone found loitering in the area during the curfew will be arrested. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Residents of the area were, however, woken up to a rude shock on Thursday morning, as bulldozers and other heavy equipment arrived at the community to pull down down buildings.

A statement from the office of Caruso Osagie (Special Adviser on Media Projects to Governor Godwin Obaseki) on Thursday indicated that the State Government has taken over the said landed property for the development of a new town.

“The land was acquired in 2017 for the new town project but had been encroached upon by land speculators. The area repossessed used to be a forest reserve at the time of the acquisition.

“The state government had declared a curfew in the area to make way for the exercise.

“The repossession exercise is part of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s renewed campaign against land-grabbers in the state, aimed at restoring sanity in land administration in the state,” Osagie said.

But, reacting to the demolition of buildings and land repossession method of the government, Daniel Noah Osa-Ogbegie, described the action as deceitful, noting that people can no longer trust whatever the government says.

According to him, “Edo State Government announced a declaration of 24 hours curfew in a certain axis of Benin for, according to them, security reasons.

“Many of us didn’t believe the reason. We were proved right when we started seeing videos of massive demolition of prime properties around that axis. How can a Government lie and deceive the people like this? How can they reduce Government to this level? How do they build trust with the people and get their confidence?

“People were prevented from going to work, school and carrying on their legitimate businesses because Godwin Obaseki wanted to demolish property of innocent purchasers of lands allegedly because they were built on Government land,” he added.

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