Delta community accuses police of aiding alleged 'notorious land grabber' - OPID News

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Thursday, 9 December 2021

Delta community accuses police of aiding alleged 'notorious land grabber'

Delta community accuses police of aiding alleged 'notorious land grabber'

The indigenes said the community has not known peace for the past few years, due to the alleged activities of Muanya.

SAHARAREPORTERS

Some indigenes of Ogbe-Ojie community, Okpanam Kingdom, Oshimili North Local Government Area, Delta State, have raised the alarm over what they called 'incessant cult attacks, violent and forceful grabbing of their ancestral lands' by an alleged cult member, identified as Augustine Okafor Muanya.

The indigenes said the community has not known peace for the past few years, due to the alleged activities of Muanya. 

They alleged that Muanya is being aided by some corrupt senior police officers in the state police command and the Special Tactical Squad (STS), in the Guzape area of Abuja headed by one DCP Yusuf Kolo, said to be his personal friend.

Narrating their ordeal to SaharaReporters, on behalf of the community, an indigene who simply identified himself as Uzum, alleged that "Muanya, has caused us a lot of trouble, he has done us more harm than good. Muanya was an obscure figure until a few years ago when he deceived us that he wanted to help us get a developer to finance the survey and partitioning of our farmland situated at Azu-Igwogwo river". 

The plan was to expose the plots of land to investors and developers. 

"Thinking he had good intentions, our eldest man gave him the go-ahead to bulldoze and partition strictly Azu-Igwogwo land," Uzum said. 


"He finished the work and was compensated with 82 acres of land being 20 percent of the plotted land, but being propelled by greed as he had made millions of naira from the sales of the 82 acres given to him, he moved into another location known as Ajaocha land without the consent of the community.

"When the community discovered that Muanya had gone beyond the mandate given to him, we tried to stop him but he violently resisted the stop-work order. As law-abiding citizens, we avoided his confrontational entreaties, we refused to be drawn into the vortex of crisis and we went to the High Court of justice sitting at Akuku Igbo and filed a suit marked AKU/65/2015."

He continued, "Midway into the litigation, Muanya pleaded for settlement and a consent judgment was delivered on the 31st of October 2016, by Justice Marcel Okoh. The court affirmed the 82 acres given to him at Azu-Igwogwo land, with a caveat and condition that he should be allowed to do the same land partitioning work at Ajaocha land as he has no formal contract to work in Ajaocha land except the consent judgment. 

"Instead of complying with the order of the court, he started selling community land, both on Ajaocha and Azu-Igwogwo farmland, outside the ones given to him. Based on his illegal acts and refusal to obey the judgement, the community went back to court and filed a suit marked AKU/45/2017 at Akwukwu-Igbo High Court seeking an order of specific performance, that is for the court to compel him to comply with the earlier judgment.

"When the court summoned him to show why he disobeyed its order, he also pleaded with the community to give him four months duration to do the work, failure of which the contract would be revoked. Four months elapsed and he did not take any step to comply with the second consent judgment. Consequently, his contract stands revoked as provided in the consent judgement because he refused to obey the first and second judgments. Instead, he went into the random sale of community land, against the court rulings. The community went back to the court and were issued a writ of possession in a suit marked IBU/2/2018, dated 28/10/2020 and signed by the High Court Judge and Registrar."

According to Uzum, the community, armed with their writ of possession, went to the farmland to take possession of their land as ordered in a judgement by the High Court in a suit marked AKU/45/2017 and suit marked IBU/2/2018. 

However, he alleged that surprisingly, Muanya mobilised a cult group, armed with dangerous weapons, and began to attack the community indigenes. 

He said, "He went and employed the services of Special Tactical Squad of the police, led by Inspector Albert and Augustine, and invaded the Ogbe-Ojie Community. He went straight to the house of Mr. Chineye Obiaku where they started shooting sporadically until Chineye managed to escape through the back door and they stole his motorcycle which is still in their custody to date.

"The STS unit headed by DCP Yusuf Kolo has been illegally aiding Muanya in his reign of terror against the law-abiding indigenes of Ogbe-Ojie community. He has been using them to harass, intimidate, arrest any community indigene that stands or tries to challenge his illegal activities. A few months ago, armed STS squad who are supposed to be tackling serious organised crimes like banditry, armed robbery and kidnapping stormed our community on the instruction of DCP Yusuf Kolo in commando style, shooting sporadically and community elders began to scamper for safety but ended up arresting Nonso Obi, Somayina Obi, Ibe Okolie and Okeleke Ikedi, took them to their office at Guzape area of Abuja, and they were tortured and compelled to write an undertaking that they will never be part of the community legitimate quest to take possession of their land being illegally grabbed and sold by Muanya."



It was learnt that the community through their counsel, M.N. Ugwuiyi, petitioned the Inspector General of Police, requesting the police to arrest and prosecute Muanya for his alleged atrocious crimes and violation of court orders as well as provide teams of policemen to provide security for the execution of the warrant of possession on the aforesaid land as ordered by High Court.

The petition is titled, "Re: Serious Threat To Peace, Armed Campaign Of Land Grabbing, Serial Flouting/Violation Of High Courts Judgement/Order, Attempted Murder, Unlawful Display Of Prohibited Fire Arm, Promoting Communal Crisis, Sponsor/Financing Of Armed Cultists Illegal Annexation/Seizure Of Community Land With The Aid Of Armed Cultists By Augustine Okafor Muanya."

The petition obtained by SaharaReporters, raised the alarm that their client (community) has been facing serious intimidation and violent attacks by armed cult members hired and brought into the once peaceful community by a land grabber.



The petitioners alleged that a few years ago, the said Muanya unlawfully sold several acres of land belonging to them to developers who are mostly non-indigenes and that he fraudulently converted the proceeds of the sale to his personal use. 

They said he used part of the proceeds to finance and sponsor armed cultists he brought to the community as back-up in his land-grabbing acts.

While noting a series of court orders and judgements Muanya has allegedly blatantly refused to obey, the petitioners prayed the Inspector General of Police to as a matter of urgency and importance, direct the state commissioner of police to provide them with at least six patrol teams to provide security for them and the court bailiff to execute the judgment. 

They also asked that the O/C Legal, Delta State immediately arrest and prosecute Muanya and his cohorts for the alleged attempted murder and acts of terrorism unleashed on them.



Our correspondent gathered that following the petition to the Police IG, the state Commissioner of Police, Ari Mohammed Ali, directed the officer in charge of the crack squad, SP John Agaga to take up the matter. 

Last week through community efforts, Muanya was arrested but a few minutes after he wrote a statement, SP Agaga released him, saying he wanted to open a fresh investigation into the land matter. 

But sources say the matter has been settled in the court of law with two High Court judgements.

A source who confided in our correspondent disclosed that immediately Muanya was released, "he went to the community in a convoy of four vehicles and assembled his cult boys and began jubilation around the community in the convoy". 

The source said Muanya "announced that the war has just begun and as the Diopka (eldest man) of Ogbe-Ojie Community, Pa Acha on hearing that the police has refused to detain and prosecute Muanya for the long wars he has been waging against the community, his blood pressure shot up and he fainted. 

"He was rushed to the hospital but died a few hours later. Muanya told his cult boys that his boss at STS Abuja called the Delta State police commissioner and OC crack squad SP John Agaga and he was released.



"Muanya told his boys that he has struck a deal with the OC crack to frustrate any attempt by the community to enforce the judgement of the courts. It is regrettable that the OC crack squad of Delta State Police Command has deviated completely from the directive of the IGP to the CP. Instead of liaising with lawyers in the command's legal department to arraign Muanya in court and provide teams of policemen to provide security for the community to execute their judgements, he clandestinely initiated another sham investigation into a land dispute that has been settled in law by two different High Courts of justice. It appears he is arrogating the power of the Supreme Court to himself to upturn or review the judgements of the high courts.



"He plans to ensure that Muanya is not arraigned in court and aid him in his illegal sale of communal land. The action of SP John Agaga if not checked may plunge the community into a violent crisis. We are therefore calling on the IGP and CP Delta to immediately direct the incompetent and manifestly biased SP John Agaga, Officer in Charge of Crack Squad to hand over the suspect, Muanya and the case file to the legal department for the lawyers to prosecute Muanya for his heinous crimes. Can you imagine that last week, the STS squad in company with Muanya stormed the community and arrested Ebolum Umunna and Emeka Nwaenie, tortured them and took them to an unknown location?"



Contacted to react to the allegations, Muanya dismissed all the allegations levelled against him, describing himself as a "very peaceful man" being oppressed by his community after working for them.

He said, "All those allegations against me are nothing but lies. I am not a cultist, I am a very peaceful man who does not like trouble and a very law-abiding citizen. 

"I can never take up arms or mobilise cult groups against my people for whatever reason. I am an indigene of the community, they are my brothers as well. I worked for them and instead of paying me with a good heart, they resulted in oppressing, intimidating, fighting and using the police to arrest me. 

"They arrested me last week and the police asked us to report back and I showed up this week but they never showed up till this moment. I have over 100 acres of land in that community. As we talk, we are in court. So, they are the ones oppressing and fighting me for just no cause."

Efforts to speak with the state commissioner of police, Ari Mohammed Ali on the issue proved abortive as all calls to his line were not answered at the time of filing the story. 

However, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Bright Edafe, said he was not aware of the case, saying, "Let those involved in the matter meet me in the office to brief me well on the issues."



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