The Isuaniocha community in the Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State has slammed a N5bn lawsuit against the state government for trespassing on its land.
Joined as defendants in the matter are the Anambra State Housing Development Corporation, the state Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Ministry of Lands, Survey and Town Planning, as well as Messrs Willie Okafor and Anthony Nwofor.
The community said the land was acquired by the state government for the development of a housing estate.
In the suit No A/243/2019 filed at the High Court of Anambra State sitting in Awka, the plaintiffs are claiming N200m as special damages for the alleged destruction of 2,000 economic trees; N30m for 300 pieces of timber; N500,000 for medicinal shrubs; N10m for agricultural crops; and N4.75bn for the destruction of four of its venerated places of worship.
Messrs Geoffrey Udeh, Basil Ezeike, Jude Okoye and Anthony Nwogbo, who filed the suit on behalf of the Umuneri village in Isuaniocha, urged the court to grant perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their privies, agents and/or cohorts from further trespassing on the said land.
The 31-paragraph affidavit of claims read in part, “In May 2019, the Anambra State Housing Development Corporation and the other defendants engaged thugs, cultists and some mercenaries, and moved them to the plaintiffs’ land to protect the bulldozers and caterpillars, etc they put on the land and to ward off the plaintiffs from their land.
“The bulldozers, caterpillars, etc damaged the agricultural crops, economic crops, medicinal shrubs, timber, shrines and juju (deities). The damage done on the plaintiffs’ land by the defendants and their agents and cohorts was very massive, thereby impoverishing the plaintiffs beyond measure.
“The plaintiffs were prevented from further cultivating the land, reaping from the economic trees on the land, making use of the medicinal shrubs and trees, and worshipping and consulting shrines and juju on their land, which have been giving signs of wreaking havoc on the plaintiffs and the defendants that desecrated them and other persons involved in the desecration directly and/or remotely.”
According to them, a petition was written to the state Commissioner of Police through their counsel to protest against the massive malicious damage, but alleged that the CP had failed to investigate the petition.
The plaintiffs said after the malicious damage/trespass, the defendants engaged surveyors, who conspired with them in plotting the land, and installing beacons and sign posts on the land without the community’s authority.
They prayed the court to declare that as owners of the land, they were entitled to the right of occupancy over it.