The Edo State Government has said it will compensate persons with authentic claims to landed properties in the 1229 hectares of land repossessed from land grabbers for the state’s new town development project.
A taskforce of the state government, on Thursday, as part of stepped up campaign against land grabbing in the state, embarked on a repossession exercise, reclaiming over 1229 hectares of land along the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road.
Addressing journalists after the exercise, the Edo State Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Christopher Nehikhare, said the campaign is part of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s renewed effort against land grabbers, aimed at restoring sanity in land administration in the state.
Nehikhare noted, “The Edo State Government is dislodging land grabbers in the state and has reclaimed over 1229 hectares of land along the Irhirhi-Obazagbon-Ogheghe Road for the state’s new town development project.
“The dislodging of the area has become necessary to pave the way for development of a new town. The Edo State Government has designed a properly laid out plan for a new city modeled after other cities across the globe.
“The state government acquired the land as far back as July 2017 when the project was conceived in preparation for the town. Land grabbers and speculators began to sell the land to unsuspecting members of the public and even built on it themselves, damning the consequences of their actions.”
He continued: “Developers didn’t believe that the government would take this kind of measures to take back its land. The curfew declared was for this purpose and the operation is ongoing smoothly without casualties.
“Government officials entered the areas last night at about 3a.m with the full complement of security agencies to possess the land and no casualty was recorded as the operation is still going on. The government has taken possession of all the houses at the Ogba Forest Reserves and removed all the buildings demarcated by the government.”
Noting that several efforts to engage the land grabbers on the said property, proved abortive, the Commissioner explained, “The government has tried in engaging the four communities involved but they have always rebuffed the government. The hostility and wide spread encroachment have made it difficult to commence the enumeration and compensation assessment. However, when the repossession is complete, the enumeration exercise will commence and payment made to the rightful occupants who were there before the possession of the land.”
He added, “The total structures marked today is 106 but 24 will not be demolished but used as offices of the government as the project goes on. People are victims because they don’t take the government seriously despite several warnings from officials on the dangers of encroaching on government property.
“Benin City is choking and needs to be expanded, and the government has chosen this area for the expansion. The government is building a new city here.”