From: Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
The people of Igah community in Igumale, Ado Local Government Area of Benue State on Wednesday protested over boundary dispute and encroachment on their land by Rijo community in Utonkon district of the state.
The Igah community had before now leased portion of its land to the Rijo community for farming and were return paying annual dues or royalties at the end of every farming season, but that the neighbouring community had since 2006 stopped to pay the agreed dues and now laying claims to the land, also allocating and selling parts of it to other neighboring communities without recourse to the owners of the land.
This development had angered the Igah community and directed the Rijo people to vacate the land but all efforts to ensure the Rijo community leave the land fell on deaf ears hence the peaceful protest.
The protesting community members comprises of elderly men, women and youths, marched with placards and leaves, to the local government council secretariat at Igumale to handle over protest letter to the council chairman, telling the Rijo community to vacate the Igah community land.
Presenting the protest letter to the council chairman, the leader of the Igah community and Ole’Aje of Igumale, Chief Ogomole Obande, stated that the Rijo community had failed to keep to the agreement earlier entered with them and therefore should vacate the land to avoid unnecessary crisis.
Chief Obande explained that the activities of the Rijo community on the land is totally against the initial understanding Igah community had with them, saying the Rijo community have embarked on illegal sales and renting of the land to other neighboring Communities without prior knowledge of Igah community.
He stated that the Rijo community in Utonkon district were remitting certain amount of money to Igah community on the bases that they were renting the land for farming activities since time immemorial until 2006 where a person from Utonkon district became executive chairman of Ado local government council and stopped them from remitting the said amount of money.
Addressing the protesters, the Chairman of Ado LGC, Chief James Oche thanked the Igah community for not taking laws into their hands but decided to embark on peaceful demonstration to register their grievances.
Chief Oche maintained that the council had decided to wade into the disagreement between Rijo and Igah- Igumale communities over boundary dispute and land encroachment with a view to resolving it.
He explained that to support his seriousness to amicably resolve the dispute, he has decided to constitute tripartite committee consisting of the executive, legislative and the traditional rulers to convoke public hearing on the matter to seek way of resolving the issue that would guarantee peaceful coexistence.
The chairman disclosed that the executive committee would be headed by the supervisory councillor for Education, Youths and Sports, Mr. Attah Ede while the legislative committee would be headed by the leader of Ado legislative council Mr. Emmanuel Ajagbo with the traditional rulers committee to be headed by the Ada’Ado Chief Ochikor Onazi and be assisted by Olong of Ufia, Chief Mathew Egede.
He assured that the outcome of their deliberations would be communicated to the office of the state Deputy governor where all issues concerning boundary and land disputes are be treated for immediate action.