Ovumnte Land Grab: Ebonyi State High Court Judge’s Ruling Leads to a Breakdown of Law and Order

806 views | Ogbonna Nwuke | March 3, 2021

A ruling delivered by Hon. Justice U. Onwusi PhD of the Ebonyi State High Court in the Ovumnte land grab case led to a breakdown of law and order when on 3rd February, 2021, thugs loyal to Chief Anyim Pius Anyim misinterpreted the said ruling and attacked Ovumnte Land Owners at the Ivo Local Government Council headquarters, Isiaka. This incident took place after the Executive Chairman of LGA, Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu had invited Ovumnte Land Owners and Chief Pius Anyim’s representatives to a meeting at the Local Government Council on 3rd February, 2021, over the ongoing Ovumnte Land Grab Case against Chief Pius Anyim.

A chronicle of events

  1. In January, 2020, a bulldozer which left from Chief Pius Anyim’s residence and directed by Messers Chinedu Nicolas Makwe (a brother to Mr.  Livinus Makwe, the Member representing Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo in the Federal House of Representatives); Peter Ajah, Livinus Ukah, Godfrey Anyim, Benjamin Osi Uka, and others forcefully entered into Ovumnte land and embarked on the malicious destruction of farms, including planted crops, palm trees, and other economic trees, and houses.

 

  1. On 23rdJanuary, 2020, Sir Moses Orji whose vast palm oil plantation, fish ponds and poultry houses were destroyed instituted Suit No: HSK/4/2020 before the High Court of Ebonyi State. In February, 2020, other members of the Ovumnte community instituted Suit No: HSK/6/2020, Suit No: HSK/19/2020 and Suit No: HSK/26/2020 before the High Court of Ebonyi State in February, 2020 aganit Chief Pius Anyim, Mr Chinedu Nicolas Makwe and others.

 

  1. The High Court in Ebonyi State never heard Suit No: HSK/4/2020 on its merits and further declined to hear the plaintiffs Motion on Notice and Experte Motion for Interlocutory injunction restraining Chief Pius Anyim and his agents from further trespassing into Ovumnte land, and therefore persons instigated by Chief Pius Anyim continued trespassing into Ovumnte land destroying farmlands, properties, houses and violating the rights of land owners.

 

  1. On 22/7/2020, the presiding High Court Judge in Suit HSK/4/2020 without a Motion on Notice from any of the parties to the Suit as required by Order 37 and 39 of the High Court Rules of Ebonyi State (2008), made an order consolidating Suit HSK/4/2020 with other suits (namely Suits: HSK/6/2020 and HSK/19/2020) filed by land owners against the Chief Pius Anyim and other individuals responsible for the destruction of their properties and seizure of their lands at Ovumnte.

 

  1. On 17/11/2020,  the presiding High Court Judge for reasons best known to him and against the arguments the plaintiffs’ lawyers  made a ruling ordering the plaintiffs in Suit No: HSK/4/2020 and Suits: HSK/6/2020 and HSK/19/202 (earlier consolidated) to bring their actions through a Class Action (Representative Action) without considering that the plaintiffs did not all share a common interest, as some while claiming for the declaration of  title to their own portions of lands at Ovumnte, while some others were claiming reliefs for the malicious damage to their properties and also for the declaration of title to their own portions of land at Ovumnte.

 

  1. The presiding Ebonyi High Court Judge in the said ruling of 17/11/2020 strangely prescribed for the Plaintiffs the parties to be sued as defendants in their class action.

 

  1. The presiding High Court Judge by his very strange ruling of 17/11/2020 did not strike out or dismiss the Suit and did not make a pronouncement either adjourning the Suit indefinitely or adjourning the Suit to a particular date, as no adjourned date was given. However, Chief Pius Anyim and his agents strangely interpreted ruling to mean that the Court has given them judgment.

 

  1. Between 27thJanuary, 2021 and 2nd February, 2021, a bulldozer which came from Chief Pius Anyim’s residence in Ovumnte entered into the farms of several land owners at Ovumnte and destroyed crops, farm houses, economic trees and other properties.

 

  1. Members of the Ovumnte community on that 2ndFebruary, 2021, reported the matter to Mr. Nwornu Daniel, the DPO in charge of Ivo LGA who refused to accept their complaint. That same day, the Executive Chairman of LGA then invited Ovumnte Land Owners and Chief Pius Anyim’s group to a meeting on 3rd February, 2020, by 7.30 AM, at the Ivo Local Government Council headquarters, Isiaka.

 

  1. At the said meeting which held at the Council Hall, the Executive Chairman of LGA, Chief Onyebuchi Ogbadu read the ruling of the Ebonyi State High Court and advised Mr. Nwornu Daniel, the DPO to ensure that the bulldozer was removed from the Ovumnte land. The DPO however, told the Executive Chairman of LGA and the parties who were in the Council Hall, that a status quoorder meant that all parties to the suit should not enter Ovumnte land again and that the original land owners should vacate if they want peace. At that point, representatives of Chief Pius Anyim’s group who had come to the Ivo Local Government Council headquarters with armed thugs began to make noise and then, their thugs unleashed mayhem on Ovumnte Land Owners, destroying their cars, motorcycles and bicycles and also beating several persons to the point of death, while the Executive Chairman of LGA was mobbed by Chief Pius Anyim’s thugs who seized his phones.

 

  1. Those beaten and wounded during the mayhem include: Mr. Friday Ovia, Mr. Ogo Okeke, Sir Moses Orji, Lady Christiana Orji, Mr. Chimazie Okoro, Mr. Francis Eze, Mr. Okechukwu Eze, Mr. Michel Ajah Eze, Mr. Ossi Chukwu and aged widows.

 

  1. The DPO who clearly saw thugs destroying properties and beating Ovumnte land owners at the Council headquarters left the scene with his Police team without attempting to quell the crisis.

 

  1. On 25thFebruary, 2021, four individuals involved in the violent attack on Ovumnte community members were charged before a Magistrate Court sitting in Abakaliki, while several culprits are still at large.

 

Attached are:

The pictures of vandalized vehicles

The pictures of hospitalized victims

The pictures of the destructive bulldozers parked at Chief Pius Anyim’s residence

The copies of the petition of the Ovumnte community to the Commissioner of Police and the Director of DSS

A copy of the said ruling by Hon. Justice U. Onwusi PhD which gave rise to the crisis

See the videos and pictures of the destruction of palm plantations and commercial farms at Ovumnte

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYs63eUrPgk

 

 

Recent Comment (1)

  1. Chukwu I March 6, 2021 at 7:00 am

    It’s a pity that those who supposed to defend the Mass are now those that are creating crises for the Mass. The by now should be arrested and prosecuted for his or her inability to defend the ovumute land owners.

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