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Court Orders Enugu Govt, Community To Maintain Status Quo On Disputed Land

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ENUGU–An Enugu State High Court has ordered the Enugu State Government and the Umuchigbo Iji Nike Community in Enugu East Local Government Area to maintain status quo in a land matter between them.

The order followed a suit by the people of Iji Nike challenging the alleged invasion and parcellation of their land known as Equity Layout into private use by government.

Correspondent reports that the suit filed by Chief John Agboanike for himself and on behalf of the Umuchigbo Iji Nike Community has the Government of Enugu State, the Attorney General of the state, the Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development as defendants.

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The people of Umuchigbo Iji Nike Community, in East Local Government Area dragged the Enugu State government to court seeking #100, 000,000.00 damages over alleged invasion of their land and percelation same into private use by government.

In the suit No E/712/2022, before an Enugu State High Court, the community is also seeking an order of interlucotary injunction restraining the defendants from entering into, meddling with, trespassing, building or interfering in whatsoever manner with the large expanse of land situate at and known as Equity layout phase three, Umuchigbo Iji Nike pending the determination of the suit.

When the matter came up, counsel to the community, Mr. Gabriel Onyema Nwokeiwu, argued that the government had not followed the due process of the law in trying to acquire the community’s land, alleging that they had suffered similar loss in an earlier land take over by the government.

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He appealed to the court to order that Status quo ante bellum be maintained pending the hearing of the motion for interlucotary injunction.

However, Enugu State Attorney General, had earlier made an oral application asking the court not to make any ruling on the matter yet.

After listening to the arguments canvassed by the two sides, Vacation Judge, Justice Paul Ugwueze, said because of the schedule of work, he would not be able to entertain their motion on notice for interlucotary injunction, explaining that if same was entertained, he might not be able to deliver judgment before the expiration of the vacation period.

He rather ordered both parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the motion for interlucotary injunction and adjourned the case until September 20 when the courts must have resumed normal session.

Justice Ugwueze’s order was sequel to an oral application by the lead counsel to Umuchigbo Iji Nike, Mr. Gabriel Onyema Nwokeiwu, asking the court to prevail on parties from doing anything that would jeopardise the peace and law.

Reacting to the ruling, the Chairman Lands, works and survey of Iji Nike Community, Chief John Agboanike, told journalists they were in court over forceful take over of their land by the state government without due process.

Effort by aprokorenews to get the reaction of the defendant, the Attorney General of the state, Mr. Mellitus Eze, proved abortive as he refused to respond to questions posed to him by journalists.

Dr Godstime Okafor appeared to join in the case on behalf of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, (FRCN) Enugu Cooperative Society whose land was among the land purportedly acquired by government.

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