The Edo State Government has announced that following the recovery of government land at Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe area of the state, the enumeration and capture of victims data, a total sum of N1.5 billion was discovered to have been collected by land grabbers in the locality between 2020 to 2022.
The finding was made known by Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Mr. Chris Osa Nehikhare yesterday, November 2, 2022.
Nehikhare reiterated the resolve of government to put an end to the “illegal act by retrieving the whopping sums of money for the restitution of the 499 victims that had been identified by the verification committee saddled with that responsibility.”
The Commissioner stated the position of the government during a press briefing in Benin after the day’s State Executive Council meeting, called on prospective property owners in the state to do due diligence before embarking on the development of their property.
Nehikhare, who decried the activities of land grabbers in the state, said that the government was worried that such a huge amount of money in the hands of unscrupulous individuals, was a recipe for chaos.
Nehikhare stressed that those already arrested and those still on the run would have their day in court.
“Edo State Government is determined to sanitise the administration of land in the state. Following the recovery of government land in the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe axis, it was discovered that N1.5 billion was collected by land grabbers from the 499 victims that have come forward for enumeration and capture in the last two years.
“The state government is determined to retrieve that money from the suspects and restitute the victims. So far, we have arrested 10 of the land grabbers and they will soon be charged to court.
The government is also appealing to Edo people to do due diligence on any property before development.
This include finding out if such land is encumbered and register their plans with the appropriate authorities. We also appreciate the support so far received from the Edo people”, Nehikhare added.
According to him, the administration of land exercise would be extended to all parts of the state.
Nehikhare also called on property owners along the First and Second Ugbor axis, who had converted their residential houses to shopping complexes thereby encroaching on the roads, to retrace their steps and revert to their fence setbacks.
The commissioner added that the state government was worried that the roads in the Ugbor axis had been encroached on such that two vehicles could not navigate through the roads at the same time, thus subjecting residents to harrowing experiences while going to work or returning home.
He warned that in not too long a time, the state government would roll out the bulldozers to demolish all illegal structures in that axis and restore the roads to their initial dimensions.
“A lot of the affected property owners in Ugbor axis were warned but they ignored the warnings and rushed the buildings on the false belief that once a building stands, it had immunity and as such, cannot be pulled down.
“We want to reiterate that as a government, we have a responsibility and we will not shirk such a responsibility because of political expediency.
No building on illegal land or road will be spared. But we will call all those affected to a stakeholders meeting and ask them to go and restore the roads after which the bulldozers will be called in”, the commissioner warned.