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R-L: The Oliha of Umunede Kingdom,Chief Gabriel Egbule; Former President General, Umunede Progressive Union, Chief Augustine Aghaulor; and Mr. Tony Ngozi, President General of Umunede Progressive Union.

Economy

Prince Paradise Estate Dispute: Implement 1994 Supreme Court Judgment, Umunede Community Urges Delta Govt


…cautions Prince Okonye to stop further development on disputed land.

Following the acquisition of over 2000 plots of land along the Agbor-Asaba expressway by one Prince Emmanuel Okonye, peace has departed the twin communities of Umunede and Emuhu in Ika North-East and Ika South local government areas respectively of Delta state.

Umunede community deeply worried and in hurt by the activities of Prince Emmanuel Okonye and owner of Prince Paradise Global Concept, at a World Press conference on Friday, April 2, 2021, reiterated its call on the Surveyor-General of the state to implement their 2016/2017 request for the demarcation of Ika South and Ika North East boundary in line with the 1994 supreme court ruling on the protracted Umunede/Emuhu land dispute case which began in 1969 at the Agbor High Court.

At the Press conference held at the Agadagidi Civic Centre in Umunede, Chief Gabriel Egbule, the Oliha of Umunede who spoke on behalf of the affected families of Idumu Esegbena and Idumu Ozoba families of Umunede community, vowed to reclaim the disputed land illegally sold to Prince Emmanuel Okonye by their Emuhu neighbours. They accused the duo of Mr. John Okonye and Augustine Okonye of Emuhu for deceitfully selling the portion of land in which he- John Okonye, had pleaded with Umunede community to allow him continue his pineapple plantation farm after the Supreme Court gave victory to the Umunede people in 1994, as the true owner of the disputed land.

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Chief Egbule expressed worries that a farm tenant on Umunede land could sell what does not belong to him, pointing out that Prince Emmanuel Okonye bought land from the wrong source just as Umunede community regretted that part of the land they mapped out for the federal government to build an Industrial Training Institution for skill acquisition and development for youths, was where Prince Emmanuel Okonye is currently building his so-called housing estate.

While noting that the people of Umunede Community are not against development and are peaceful people who do not believe in carrying guns and drumming for war, he disclosed that the community has done everything possible to follow the legal way in reclaiming their land. “When we got wind of what was happening, our lawyers wrote to Prince Emmanuel Okonye informing him that the land on which he is building his estate belongs to Esegbena and Ozoba families that he should leave that land, he did not respond”, he said.

Flanked by the former President General, Umunede Progressive Union, Chief Augustine Aghaulor, Mr. Tony Ngozi, President General of Umunede Progressive Union and others, Chief Egbule recounted that, “in 1994, the land in dispute finally came to an end when the Supreme Court awarded judgement to Idumu Esegbena and Idumu Ozoba families of Umunede. One would have expected that after the determination of this case by the apex Court in the land, that the Emuhu people would allow peace to reign but they did not. They kept trespassing on our land, destroying our crops and farmlands, properties and this went on.

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“After the victory of the Idumu Esegbena and Idumu Ozoba families at the Supreme Court, one John Okonye, a native of Emuhu, have a pineapple plantation in that same area. Haven seen that his people has lost the case, came to our people and said please, I know you own this land now but please allow me to continue my pineapple plantation as your tenant. Our people are soft minded people, unlike what Emmanuel Okonye is trying to tell the world. We believe in progress and development.

“And we told him that if you want to continue to use the land, you have to come and sign a lease agreement with us and you will become our tenant and you will pay our rent and the man agreed. So, we went into an agreement, we leased the land on which John Okonye have his Pineapple plantation and he paid till fourth year when he suddenly stopped paying and when we went to him to demand rent, he said my people asked me not to pay rent to you again that the land after all belongs to them.

“This land that was the Pineapple plantation which John Okonye leased from Idumu Esegbena and Idumu Ozoba is what John Okonye turned around and sold to Prince Emmanuel Okonye of Akumazi where he is now building an estate which he calls Prince Paradise Estate. John Okonye failed to realize that he has signed for us a lease agreement, we have the documents showing that he was paying rent to us”.

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Continuing, Chief Gabriel Egbule said, “About four years ago, the Chief of Emuhu came down to the palace of Umunede and informed our Obi that some people wanted to come and invest. They wanted to build a mighty housing estate between Emuhu and Umunede and that he wants both of them to jointly sell this land to these people. Of course, the Obi consulted his President General who advised him against going ahead with what the Chief of Emuhu is proposing.

“Because the man came here and said the land does not belong to Emuhu people after the Supreme Court judgment and so we thought the case has ended not knowing that the Chief of Emuhu went ahead on his own and sold that land. We noticed bulldozers and caterpillars destroying our crops, uprooting our palm trees, cassava plants and we went to find out what was happening. We found out that a company was building an estate.”

They further called on all investors who had been contacted by Prince Emmanuel Okonye to be part of his Estate Project to have a rethink as the land in view was illegally purchased from a wrong source.


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