If the fillers Umuaka Times gathered in February from Amiyi community are anything to go by, a case of land dispute may create several avenues of social discomfort in Amiyi Akah Autonomous Community of Njaba LGA, Imo State, if not handled properly. Mr Ezenwa Nwaikpa, a hotelier and a businessman is at crossroads with the entire Amiyi Akah Autonomous Community over land ownership. When Umuaka Times met with Mr Nwaikpa early February 2022, he explained what happened by giving his own account of the episode.
Mr Nwaikpa who is also known as Eze Nwata introduced himself as a farmer and a businessman from Umuakporu Amiyi Akah. According to Ezenwa who used to live in Indian a few years back, he was born in 1978 and he has been doing his best to create a decent life for himself and his family. Ezenwa started to farm at the disputed parcel of land in 2014 on his own because his parents were no longer so active to be farming like before. After the deaths of his parents in 2015 and 2019 respectively, Ezenwa intensified his farming projects. Umuaka Times gathered that Ezenwa’s late father, carved a portion of the land which he donated to the Amiyi community for developmental projects. Amiyi later built a town hall on the portion given to them by the late Chief Elias Nwaikpa.
Umuaka Times gathered that by 2020, a female teacher known as Mrs. Nwanyanwu went to the land to farm. The female teacher was using the land donated to Amiyi by the late Ezenwa’s father, Chief Elias Nwaikpa, to run a school but later decided to farm on other parts of the land which was never donated to the community by the original owner. According to the reports Umuaka Times gathered, Ezenwa later approached Mrs Nwanyanwu to find out who sent her, she was said to have responded that as far as Amiyi had a hall close to the place, the whole parcel of land belonged to the community. Even those sent to clear the bush by Ezenwa were said to be confronted by the woman. Umuaka Times was told that all over the years of farming at the place by the Nwaikpa family, nobody had ever claimed the land or suggested that it belonged to Amiyi community.
As a businessman who was interested in creating jobs, Ezenwa wanted to develop the place and build a hotel on the land. Mrs Nwanyanwu was said to have resisted the attempt and later invited one Chief Nkemjika Nwosu and reported the matter to him. From that point, other chiefs etc in Amiyi started to intervene claiming that the land was not Ezenwa’s. Further events unfolded and the case got to the police. The Amiyi PG, Mr Vincent Egbuchilem appealed to the police to allow the parties settle at the village level. The police accepted and gave them 3 weeks to settle and report back. Ezenwa was not comfortable with the time given by the police. He was said to have appealed to the police to extend the time to one month and the police finally obliged him. The parties agreed with the police that they would resolve the matter amicably at the village level and left.
A period of one month had come and gone and nobody invited Ezenwa or called any meeting concerning what was agreed at the police station. It got to three months and nothing was heard from the community. Ezenwa then went back to the police to inform them that the community had refused to act upon the agreement. The DPO was said to have expressed deep shock over the failure of the community to act according to their agreement. The DPO advised Ezenwa to remain calm because the land really belonged to him. If not so, why the refusal to act upon the agreement? Ezenwa thanked him and went on to continue with is project. On the day he was commissioning the hotel, many prominent Amiyi men and women including some chiefs came and celebrated with him.
So how did Ezenwa and his people find themselves in the troubled waters of local politics in Amiyi? According to what Umuaka Times gathered, Ezenwa and his people started to have more troubles when it was discovered that some bad Amiyi boys had gone into serious criminal activities. A kidnap victim who was held hostage by some of the well known criminals in Amiyi escaped from the hideout and that became a big news in the community. So the community said that those Amiyi criminals usually visit the hotel built by Ezenwata to drink. This is how Ezenwata’s matter came up again.
The anti kidnapping unit of Imo State Police Command came to Umuaka and went straight to Amiyi in search of Ezenwa. In one of their visits, they were said to have forced themselves into the compound of the hotel. n three occasions the policemen came. On their first visit, Ezenwa was said to be out of town and they left after searching the whole buildings in the hotel. Nothing incriminating was found but they still took some people away and later released them after questioning them.
Determined to rid the community of criminals, private securitymen from Anambra State were hired to be moving around the town. The security men according to what Ezenwa told Umuaka Times, would always come and statione themselves at the gate of his hotel thereby harassing the customers. “When I heard this, I went to ask the security men why they choose to disrupt my business. While talking with them, we lost our cool and exchanged words of which we later settled.”
Ezenwa who assumed that he had totally resolved the matter with the security men was shocked to discover that one of the village leaders of the security team reported to the PG, Mr Vincent Egbuchilem about the exchange of words between him and the security men. Egbuchilem was said to have advised that Ezenwa should be arrested. He was subsequently arrested and taken to Owerri to the anti kidnapping squad where he spent 1 month in detention. During his detention days, he was confronted with all sorts of criminal allegations of which he denied any form of involvement in all of them.
Due to the activities of hardened criminals in Nigeria today, it is not as simple as people may assume for people accused of deep criminal activities to come out of such accusations alive. When Ezenwa was released, he came back and celebrated his freedom and innocence, he was arrested again following a tipoff to the police that he had come home to brag again. At this time, he was detained for 4 days. It was the intervention of the commander of the anti kidnapping squad in the state that ordered his release. On his release, “the police advised me to remain calm and never take the laws into my hands. From that time till date, Ezenwa has been busy with his personal businesses, possibly waiting for the next action.
There are speculations in Amiyi community that any of the parties involved in the land dispute may decide to seek legal redress. This will indeed create a new vista to the case where justice will eventually be done to both parties. For now, nobody can guess the next move of the parties involved.