The Nigerian Army was fined one million naira and its acquisition of some Ohore 1 land deemed null and unlawful by a Delta State High Court in Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area.
The Nigerian Army’s incursion into Ohore 1 land was also deemed a trespass by the court presided over by Justice Roli-Daibo Harriman.

According to Justice Harriman’s Monday verdict in the community’s lawsuit, the entire land shown in exhibit CL3 is subject to the Ohore people’s statutory right of possession.

On behalf of themselves and the Ohore 1 community, Mr. Godwin Imiruaye, Mr. Lucky Utebu, and Chief Julius Oghojamuni sued the Nigerian Army, the Minister of Justice, and six others in suit No. EHC/41/2014. The court’s declaration follows this case.

The claimants’ lawyers, headed by activist Chief Victor Otomiewo, went to court to state that the land they were occupying and possessing at Ohore did not belong to the defendants because it was not part of any area of land acquired by the Army for their use before the Land Use Act was promulgated.

Among other things, Chief Otomiewo asked the High Court to rule that the purchase of Ohore 1 land cannot be finalized until there is proof of compliance with all applicable laws and the constitution.

Following Chief Otomiewo’s request, the court barred the Army from further incursions onto Ohore territory.

In 1975, the territory in question was taken seized by the Nigerian Army from the administration of the Midwestern State.

The Army bought the land for the construction of the present-day Effurun Barracks, according to a letter with reference number NAE/2801/26/1/G.

The family who held the land were not compensated as required by law, even though the Land Use Act had not yet been proclaimed when the land was acquired. This act vests all land in the government, which keeps it in trust for the people.

Many acres of land were left idle and undeveloped when the barracks were finished in 1979.

Some current and former army generals got smart; instead of giving it back to the people who live off the land, they started selling it to investors and speculators and renting it out to small-time traders who could afford to set up shop in the Mammy Market.

According to HRM Emmanuel Ekemejewa Sideso, Abe 1, the Ovie of Uvwie Kingdom, his people gave over that much land to the Army under the impression that the federal government intended to construct the main campus of the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA), which was founded in 1964 at Effurun.

The government chose to utilize the acquired land for the construction of army barracks, presently known as 3 Battalion Barracks, Effurun, since the military academy was eventually located in Kaduna. We hoped that army education would bring growth to the community. In 1975, 4,640 acres of land were acquired in total.

According to the Army’s certificate of occupancy from February 1994, an extra 436 acres were subsequently appropriated by the military.

According to the king, the additional property, which brings the total acquired area to 5,076 acres, was taken without the consent of the Uvwie people.

Unfortunately, the original owners—the people of Uvwie kingdom—can no longer afford to buy the property at the current price. This is where the land dispute conflict began.

The verdict has sent shockwaves through Uvwie Kingdom, according to our correspondent.

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