Sunday, 25 September 2016

Benue Federal Lawmaker Hon Ezekiel Adaji Accused of Disposing Orphans Of Their Land

By Josephine Akioyamen
Their lives stood still 15 years ago when Mr Garuba, their father and the bread-winner of the family died.  They were listless on how to go on with life.

After having lost their mother some years before, this stung with the force of one million African killer bee. The orphans, all three of them were forlorn.  They had no one to look to for help but God. The only thing going for them was their love for education instilled on them by their parents while they were yet alive. All that now was about to be dashed upon the cresting wave of life.

The burden to guide his two brothers now fell on the shoulders of Ehi, the eldest of the orphans, himself a child too.

Like a ray of light on a cloudy day, an idea bubbled up to the  kids family to use the expanse of land belonging to their deceased dad in Ojali community, Alaglanu,  Oglewu, Otukpo-Adoka Rd, in Ohimini Local Government, Benue State in some enterprise that could turn it into a money yielding venture.  With effervescent energy, Ehi, the eldest of orphans, and his brothers Olekwu and Emma Garuba  set about turning it into the venture of their dream.  They were able to get a lease on life this way. They have been funding their education with proceeds from the land ever since. It continued to serve them well  until Hon. Awulu Ezekiel Adaji disrupted their lives.

It so happens, that Hon Awulu Ezekiel Adaji, the member representing the Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Nigeria was interested in that land because it happened to be in the pricey and upwardly upscale corridor around the famous Otukpo-Adoka Road. He made overtures to the orphans about his plans to buy the land from them which they rejected twice. Then Like the big bad wolf, he saw the orphans as prey to be exploited. Using the mandate entrusted to him by the Ohimini and Otukpo people, Hon Adaji seized the land from the orphans without their consent or paying any compensation for the land. He snuffed the light out of their lives and plunge them back into despair even though he was elected in the first place to make sure that no one is ever preyed upon within his constituency.

How did this come to be? You’d ask in incredulity. Well, according to sources who spoke to IPN, it began sometime last year when there was a rift in  Alaglanu, Oglewu, Ohimini LG.  It was then some individuals seizing on the flux in the community proclaimed themselves as the repository of titles to all the land in the area whether communally or individually owned.

This syndicate most notoriously consisting of these individuals; Mr Ochojila Akpe (Village Head), Edache Ochojila, Egwa Iduma, Anthony Egwa, Owoicho Adikwu, Ijachi Ikwu, Adamina Ejembi ASP (Rtd) and Oyilokwu Odeh, either by themselves or in cahoots with others set about alienating high value land along the Otukpo-Adoka Road without the consent or paying compensation to the true owners of the land.

Their action left in its destructive wake, victims such as Mr Sunday Atuh, owned a cashew plantation in Ojali which was sold by the syndicate to two  Army Colonels whose names we are yet to learn or whether they are retired or still serving.  The land with its appurtenant plantation, according to our sources though unconfirmed, was sold in the millions of Naira to the colonels, however, in a bit of chutzpah, the syndicate attempted to offer N200, 000 to Mr Atuh which he refused.  Mr Atuh has since reported the matter to the police and is heading to the courts for justice.

Other victims are Mrs Ugboga Adem, whose land was seized, sold off and 15 cashews tree thereon cut down and Mr Inalegwu Ameh Abutu, on whose land over 50 cashew trees were hacked down.

Some victims died out of  broken hearts. One, Mr Vincent Onum died mysteriously last year and the other, Ikwu Obanyilo  died recently.

To make matter worse, the syndicate are about now telling people from another part of Idoma land or Oglewu to vacate Ojali  in order to seize their property. Mr Obochi Itodo is an Otukpa man who was born in Ojali. His parents lived most of their lives in Ojali and died there. Now his right to own property or be resident at the only place he knows as his home is being threatened by this syndicate.

Our sources also reliably informed us that Mr Emmanuel Odeh, the youth leader of Ojali who refused to be part of these illegal acts is being hounded by the syndicate. His very life hangs in the balance.

While the position of the traditional ruler of Oglewu, the Ochoglewu, is not yet clear on the illegal sale of people’s land going on in his domain, however, what is most troubling or worrisome is the case of Hon Adaji who, even though he was aware that the land doesn’t belong to the syndicate helped them along and acquired it all the same. He knew the land belong to the Orphans of Mr Garuba.

Our sources told us he approached the children for the land but they turned him down. It was, therefore, most surprising that he turned around and pounced on the opportunity that the syndicate illegally offered to him. There is speculation that Adaji swooped like a hawk on the orphans because he saw them as young chicks that have no one to protect them. He knew they won’t have the funds to seek redress against a ‘colossus’ like him and therefore felt safe in his assumptions that once he takes the land, it remains his forever. He has forgotten his primary duty to his constituents; to protect their interest at every cost because instead, he is taking away the future of three young men who happen to be in the most helpless segment of the society; orphans.

Now the community is at an edge which may very well lead to a bloody confrontation unless proper authorities intervene. The government of Benue state should intervene on this matter otherwise, it would face a bloody conflagration on its hands in Ojali community.

When contacted by  IPN to respond to this story, Hon Adaji instead of giving his own version of the story or events,  blocked IPN correspondents on  Whatsapp on the cell phone number 080654319…  through which he was contacted.

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