From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Tipper Drivers Association, Edo State chapter, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Chief Priest of Okhuoronmi community in Oredo, Mr Ovbokhan Igbinovia, to hands-off landed property allegedly taken from members of the association, threatening to stop operations in the state if their demand is not met.
The chairman of the association, Austin Uhunmwangho, said this while briefing newsmen in Benin on what he alleged as wanton destruction of members properties by the chief priest of Okhuoronmi Community.
Uhunmwangho alleged that the chief priest forcefully took over his land and that of his members without recourse to what they have spent so far on the lands.
‘The chief priest collected my land including that of my members, he destroyed our buildings.
‘Buildings that were up to roofing level, all went down the drain, just like that,’ he said.
“We are not the only victims of this whole evil act you can see some other persons here.
‘We have taken it upon ourselves to liberate others even while we fight for our right. What we want is our lands, we don’t want any other thing.
‘Our members’ lands and all these victims of circumstances properties must be returned back to them.
‘We have gotten over fifty petitions with evidence of houses that have been demolished.
‘The state government and the Benin palace should intervene. We have given the chief priest seven days ultimatum or declare total shut down of services across the entire state,’ he said.
Uhunmwangho added that the action of the community chief priest is worse than that of the disbanded Community Development Association (CDA) whose activities were retrogressing development in the kingdom.
‘It will be better we reverse to the days/era of CDA though it has been outlawed by the state government and by the Benin Monarch,’ he stated.
He said if the state government, Oba of Benin and concerned authorities do not prevail on the chief priest, Ovbokhan to return the landed properties bought by their members and other individuals to them, the association will be left with no choice but to withdraw its service across the state.
Speaking, Mrs Amete Joy, one of the victims whose property was seized, said all efforts to recover her land was unsuccessful even when she stayed at the chief priest gate for days.
Responding to the allegations, the chief priest, Mr Ovbokhan Igbinovia said Austin Uhunmwangho and his union members have no lands in his community and that they should not be taken seriously.