Nigeria: Nkwelle-Ezunaka Battles Onitsha Over Land
Onitsha — Two neighbouring communities, Nkwelle-Ezunaka in Oyi council and Onitsha are now locked in battle over delineation of electoral wards, which Nkwelle Ezunaka people describe as strange arrangement.
In a petition it filed through the community's counsel, Mr. J.E.P. Anikpeh, signed and copied to the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State police command, the community said it was at a loss as to what might have influenced what it called abnormal arrangement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) whereby some areas in Nkwelle-Ezunaka were ceded to Onitsha.
It said, "Nkwelle- Ezunaka people from the beginning are the owners of Oyolu Oze land part of which is now known as 3-3.
"The community was said to be part of the former Anambra Local Government Area before the creation of Oyi Local Government Area and had never been part of Onitsha and could not have been in Onitsha; reason being that the natural boundary between our clients' community and Onitsha has ever remained the Nkisi River."
The petition pointed out that Nkwelle-Ezunaka has two wards with six polling stations as one polling station is located at 3-3 area of Oyolu Oze, which it said has been there since 1979 till date.
It said that there was no ward 15 Onitsha at 3-3 area of Oyolu Oze for the 1979 and 1983 elections, adding that it was the Federal Government that had paid Nkwelle- Ezunaka people compensation for the land in the area between 1982 and 1984 that made Onitsha indigenous politicians try to extend the Government Reserved Area Onitsha ward 15 to the 3-3 area."
Citing pieces of evidence of cases won by Nkwelle-Ezunaka in respect of the ceded land the petition read: "It is important to observe that all the activities leading to the emergence of annexures A to R concerned the very parcel of land wherein lies the Federal House Estate at 3-3 Nkwelle-Ezunaka now embarrassingly ceded to Onitsha constituency.
"One would have thought that an agency of the government like the INEC would have depended on previous records and acts of ownership and possession to determine the owners of an area especially when in doubt."
The petition said that pieces of evidences abound to justify that the Federal Housing Estate situates in Nkwelle-Ezunaka land and that any ward created to cover the area could not by any stretch of the imagination be anywhere else than Nkwelle-Ezunaka.
The petition noted that even the police commend acknowledges the territorial boundary between Oyi Local Government Area and Onitsha North Local Government Area as, according to the petition, police from Onitsha area limit their operational activities at the Onitsha end at Nkisi River "and so do the police in Oyi Local Government whose station is sited close to the Federal Government Girls' College on a piece of land donated by Nkwelle-Ezunaka community."
The community said in the petition that it has taken the pains to furnish the INEC chairman with all the necessary facts and documentary evidence to enable him convince himself that the Federal Housing Estate and all the plots of land developed or undeveloped up to Nkisi River are the bona fide patrimonial property of Nkwelle-Ezunaka.
It said that it is, therefore, illogical that the Federal Housing Estate should be under a ward or constituency in Onitsha.