One of the victims of the controversial demolition of houses at Ulegun community in Ikpoba-Okha local government area of Edo State, Osaro Ihankpan, a property developer, has been counting his losses, and has therefore demanded justice. Ihankpan, who lamented the destruction of his houses, said four other house owners affected by the demolition last week, allegedly on the orders of the secretary to the Benin Traditional Council, (BTC) Frank Irabor, have been hospitalised as a result of shock over their predicament.
In another development, the embattled members of Ulegun community have denied ceding their land to the Oba of Benin, Ewuare 11, on the basis of which their houses were demolished.
A distraught Ihankpan said he had so far invested ₦38 million in the last 12 years on the buildings which he said were at the filling and roofing levels respectively when they were demolished.
“I am no longer myself. I am just standing here as a man. There’s one woman and three others who are battling their lives after they destroyed their houses. I want the Edo State government and the federal government to come to my aid. I bought the land and paid before I started building”, he stated.
Irabor had told journalists that the land, measuring 225.47 hactares, where the houses were built, belonged to the Oba of Benin. According to him “those who built on the land should go and meet those who sold the land to them”. Bulldozers were consequently deployed to bring down over 60 houses on the land in contention. Denying ceding their land to the Oba at a press conference on Friday, Raymond Enogieru, who spoke on behalf of leaders of the community, accused the leadership of a neighbouring community, (Ukhiri) and the palace secretary “of bringing the revered institution to disrepute”. Enogieru contended that a dispute over the said land with its neighbouring community (Ukhiri) had been resolved in various courts up to Supreme Court in favour of Ulegun community, in addition to the pronouncement by the former Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa.
Recall that on Thursday, Justice Mary Itsueli of Edo State High Court, Benin City, remanded Irabor and six others in prison pending receipt of legal advice by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) following their arraignment. The accused persons were arrested on Wednesday, by the police and charged to court on Thursday. They are facing a six-count charge bordering on illegal demolition of over 60 houses estimated at over N500 million, alleged intimidation, harassment and disregard for the rule of law.