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Protests Rock Anambra Community Over Alleged Land Encroachment

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The people of Umuenu village, Umuawulu community in Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra state, staged a peaceful protest against illegal encroachment into their ancestral land, Agu Udo/Agu Ofu, by a neighbouring village, Abo Ani, in Orunba North Local Government Area, hometowm of Chief Ernest Ezeajughi, Chief of Staff to Governor Chukwuma Soludo.

Protesters accuse Ezeajughi of using his position as Soludo’s Chief of Staff and Awgbu community indigene to influence the state boundary committee Chairman, Ifeanyichukwu Ibezim, to suppress Umuenu villagers of Umuawulu and favour Abo-Ani villagers of Awgbu.

However, in a swift response, Ezeajughi debunked the Umuenu villagers’ allegation, describing it as extremely spurious.

Ezeajughi, who denied the allegations over the phone, stated that the Deputy Governor is the Chairman of the Boundary Committee, which is responsible for investigating and resolving boundary disputes in the state.

“I am not aware of any meeting, nor was I a member of the team that went to inspect or demarcate the disputed land between villages in Umuawulu and another village in the Awgbu community. According to Ezeajughi, only the Deputy Governor has the authority to preside over land matters brought before the Anambra State Boundary Dispute Commission.

In response, Deputy Governor Ibezim stated, “I made changes to our boundary committee”. I took the time to physically visit these disputed areas and verify all of the claims. At the very least, we would be able to see every sign of demarcation, such as trees, rivers, and landmarks that keep communities together’, the Deputy Governor said.

Ibezim stated, “In the case in question, I went there, walked for kilometres through the bush, and stood there. The two villages and a community – because it is between Enugwu village in Umuawulu, Umuenu village in Umuawulu, and Abo Ani in Awgbu, all for the case in my office, and we set a date to go there. Surprisingly, Umuenu did not show up.

“There, we did not want to make our own decision, so I called the leader of Umuawulu and the lawyer representing them, only to discover that after all of us agreed to meet there, he went back, because he was part of the decision that we would go physically there, and he told me that he decided later to go to court again.”

“I made no statements there. All I told the people present was that we had seen things and would return to make our decision. I left. Whatever they are saying is simply a result of their unwillingness to let peace reign. We have not issued an official statement or made a decision on this matter. “They should wait for my decision first.”

“I have not made a final decision, and they are carrying placards. I simply stated that I had heard and seen the location, but had not made a decision.

When asked if the Supreme Court decision referred to by Umuenu residents favoured the village, the Deputy Governor responded, “People lay claims to all sorts of things.” Let them deliver the Supreme Court decision. You have this and that judgement; we have lawyers.”

“As the executive arm of the government, we have a statutory responsibility to protect judicial decisions. To even protect the laws enacted by the legislature because we control the means to do so.

“I do not own any land there. I do not want to have one because I am not from Umuawulu or Awgbu. So, when someone calls the Chief of Staff or anyone else, the Chief of Staff does not accompany us and is unaware that we are going there.”

“There is something called monumentation. Ask them if we have done monumentation, which is when we physically go out and use beacons to fix and establish boundaries. Let them decide whether we did that. Let them say whether I pointed to any point as the boundary.”

“Many elders from other villages went with us and climbed the hills, but there was no single representative from Umuenu; in the meantime, you agreed to be there on a date you even set. There is so much insincerity in this land dispute. Some claim that we go out and place beacons in order to obtain lands for ourselves. I just wonder why I should do that,” said Ibezim.

Protesters held placards reading, “Governor Soludo come to our rescue, Abo Ani encroached on our land, we have supreme court judgement in our favour on the land, Deputy Governor Onyekachukwu Ibezim is biassed, Deputy Gov has been influenced by Chief of Staff who hails from Awgbu, Deputy Gov writes scripts of Chief of Staff and former director of Anambra State Boundary Commission, Chief Davidson Nkala, Soludo intervene before they take over.”

Speaking to reporters during the protest, the protesters’ spokesperson and former chairman of the Umuenu Umuawulu community, Chief Humphrey Obi, recounted how the land dispute began in the 1960s and how Umuenu won all three court cases involving the Court of Republic of Biafra, Onitsha Judicial Division, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and others that ruled against the Abo Ani Awgbu community.

Obi specifically cited the July 5, 1967 decision of the High Court of the Republic of Biafra, Onitsha Judicial Division, presided over by Justice W. O. Egbuna in the suit filed by Jerome Okpala and Nwanaka Nwankwo for themselves and on behalf of Umuenu village, Umuawulu against Richard Onyenegbu and five others for themselves and as representing the people of Abo-Ani village, Awgbu, which gave Umuenu village victory.

In the judgement, which bears the suit number 0/41/1963, Justice Egbuna stated: “I have monitored the evidence led by the plaintiffs and I am satisfied that this Aguofu land in dispute belongs to the Umuenu people of Umuawulu and not to the defendants, Abo-Ani Awgbu.”

The court went on to say, “I am also convinced that the plaintiffs have been farming on this land, received a judgement over it in 1928, and have continued to use the land until the defendants trespassed into it.”

He stated that, dissatisfied with the three court decisions, the Abo Ani people went to the Anambra State Boundary Commission, which was chaired by the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Onyekachukwu Ibezim, and demanded the demarcation of the disputed land.

“At the Commission, we insisted that we are the owners of the land and that the Supreme Court’s decision must be followed because it is still binding law.

“Funny enough, our brother Enugwu community Umuawulu, who supported Abo Ani and testified against us in court that Abo Ani owned the land, has now reversed course and claimed that the land belongs to them, Enugwu, demonstrating that they are backed up by some powerful forces from the state government.

“While we were interfacing with Abo Ani at the meeting presided over by the Deputy Governor, he informed us that he has no business with the Supreme Court judgement and others, and that he has not even gone through the documents we submitted; he only wants the inspection and demarcation of the land in dispute.

“It is clear from the Deputy Governor’s utterances that he is biassed and influenced by the Chief of Staff, who is from Awgbu, and Nkala, a former Director of the Anambra State Boundary Commission, which is why we are calling on Governor Soludo to come to our rescue.

“It is the sacred duty of the Anambra State Boundary Committee to follow and apply the said demarcation as judiciously fixed to accord with the judicially fixed boundary, as anything less will not only amount to the Anambra State Boundary Committee reviewing and reversing the judgement of the competent court, but will also amount to contempt of court,” Obi warned.

In a petition to Governor Soludo, the President and Secretary of Umuenu Umuawulu, Nze Okoye Godwin and Mr. Nwafor Tochukwu, respectively, reminded him of his belief in the supremacy of law, stating that he should not allow any influence from any quarter to cede the land or part of it to both Abo Ani Awgbu and Enugwu Umuawulu because they were trespassers stopped by the courts of the land.

Reiterating the dangers of ceding land to unauthorised communities, the duo urged Governor Soludo to instead invite the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to explain the implications of disobeying a court order.

Among those who spoke during the protest was Tochukwu Okoye, 94, who said, “I am surprised that someone who signed witness for another now claims to be the owner of the land; let us think twice. I am calling on Soludo, a peaceful man, to intervene in this situation.”

Chief Johnson Anazonwu Nwafor, 88, stated, “I was cultivating with my father in that land as a child, so I know everything there. We have no problem with Enugwu in that land; only Awgbu people. Our village is peaceful; otherwise, there would be bloodshed in that land as a result of what they are doing to us.”

Mr. Roseline Adobe, a widow, added, “I cultivated yam and cassava, among other things, but they destroyed all of my crops and took my hoe and knife.” “That is the only place I feed my kids.”

According to Mrs Susan Nwaeke Ogbunike, “They stormed into the farm where we were cultivating, chased us away, levelled all my farm, destroyed all my crops, and as a result, my blood pressure rose, and I am still suffering from it today. Governor Soludo, we are requesting your assistance.

Mrs Chinwendu Nwanaka, a widow, said, “I was on my way to get something in my farm when someone told me that everything we cultivated, yam, cassava, cocoyam, was destroyed. When I got there, I could not get anything, and I started crying because no one could help me.”

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Naira Continues To Depreciate Against Dollar Despite Intervention Of CBN

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The Naira has continued to depreciat9 against the United States dollar for the fifth time despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s sale of foreign currencies to legitimate Bureau De Change operators.
FMDQ data revealed that the naira dropped to N1,300.15 per dollar on Tuesday from N1,234.49 traded on Monday.
The figure represents N65.66 (5 per cent) loss compared to the N1,234.49 it exchanged for on Monday.
On Tuesday, the apex bank sold 10,000 dollars each to BDC at N1,021 per dollar.
This is the third recent intervention for BDCs amid the bank’s effort to defend the naira.
On Tuesday, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, said it had frozen about 300 accounts on a cryptocurrency platform to ensure the safety of the foreign exchange market
Naijablitznews.com recalled that the anti-graft agency earlier had continued its clampdown on Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms blamed for manipulating the country’s foreign exchange market.
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Power Sector: FG To Establish 3 Gigawatts Of Solar Energy in 25 States – Minister

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Power Sector: FG To Establish 3 Gigawatts Of Solar Energy in 25 States – Minister
…say poor funding, insufficient gas supply responsible for power deficit
By Gloria Ikibah
Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, had said that the federal government is working towards the establishment of three gigawatts of solar energy sources across the 25 states in Northern and South Western parts of the country.
According to him, this is a novel approach that will go a long way to solve the power problems, even as he called on state governments to invest in power generation in their states.
The minister stated this at a two-day Power Sector Stakeholders Interactive Dialogue/Workshop organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Power with the theme “Confronting Nigeria’s Power Challenge as the Nation Migrates to a Multi-tier Electricity Market: A Legislative Intervention” on Tuesday in Abuja.
Adelabu who said that hydro energy would be deployed for the coastal cities, also lamented that the country has witnessed incessant collapse of transmission which is caused by lack of adequate infrastructure.
He admitted that most of the infrastructure in the power dates back to the 1960s, with no single backup for the national grid, and called for alternative sources in the situation where there is a collapse of the grid.
The Minister also disclosed that the major factors responsible for the power deficit currently faced by the country is as a result of inadequate financing and insufficient gas supply.
Adelabu who lamented the current state of power supply across the country, however, assured Nigerians of the determination of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration to address the challenges and make Nigeria a suitable place for business.
He said “No sector can function optimally without the power sector. Over the years, poor financing, and inadequate gas supply have been responsible for the energy deficit we have in the country. But a lot of work is going on to address these challenges.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the
Chairman, House Committee on Power, Rep. Victor Nwokolo explained that the purpose of the interactive dialogue/workshop was to provide a dynamic platform for stakeholders to evaluate the progress so far in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) development.
He revealed that discussions will centre around the seamless transition to a Multi-Tier Electricity Market, as outlined in the Electricity Act of 2023.
According to him, “his transition, holds immense potential to enhance competition, efficiency, and reliability within the electricity market, ultimately benefitting consumers and driving economic growth”.
He said: “Through collaborative brainstorming and analysis, we aim to chart a clear roadmap for this transition, ensuring that it is smooth, inclusive, and conducive to sustainable development.
“Furthermore, this workshop will serve as a platform for stakeholders to explore innovative solutions to the persistent challenges plaguing the power sector. From infrastructure development and financing to regulatory frameworks and consumer engagement, we will examine a wide array of issues and propose actionable strategies for improvement.
“In addition to these objectives, we aspire for this workshop to foster enhanced collaboration and partnership among stakeholders. By bringing together legislators, representatives from government agencies, regulatory bodies, industry players, academia, and civil society, we aim to cultivate a culture of cooperation and collective action towards our shared goal of a vibrant and resilient power sector”.
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How Yahaya Bello withdrew $720,000 from Kogi account to pay child’s school fees -EFCC Chairman

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By Francesca Hangeior

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ola Olukoyede, has revealed that a former governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, transferred $720,000 from the government’s coffers to a bureau de change before leaving office to pay in advance for his child’s school fee.

Olukoyede revealed this during an interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said, “A sitting governor, because he knows he is going, moved money directly from government to bureau de change, used it to pay the child’s school fee in advance, $720,000 in advance, in anticipation that he was going to leave the Government House.

“In a poor state like Kogi, and you want me to close my eyes to that under the guise of ‘I’m being used.’ Being used by who at this stage of my life?”

Olukoyede further stated that he personally reached out to Bello, offering him a chance to clarify the situation in a respectful setting within the EFCC office but the ex-governor reportedly declined to cooperate, citing fears of harassment from an unnamed woman.

The EFCC boss added, “I didn’t initiate the case; I inherited the case file. I called for the file, and I said there are issues here.

“On my own, I called him, which I am not supposed to do, just to honour him as an immediate past governor. ‘Sir, there are issues. I’ve seen this case file. Can you just come let us clarify these issues?’

“He said, ‘Ha! Thank you, my brother. I know, but I can’t come. There’s one lady that has surrounded EFCC with over 100 people to come and embarrass me and intimitade me.’

Bello was said to have suggested that the EFCC come to his village rather than conduct an investigation at the agency’s quarters.

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