The Enogie of Irue N’Owina, Iyekogba community, Oredo local government of Edo State, Chief Efemwenkiekie Eresoyen and the St. Paul Catholic Church are trading blames over counter-allegations of land grabbing.
The Enogie is accusing the church of conniving with some persons in his community to annex several plots of ancestral land for the church’s expansion.
In letters by his counsel, Olayiwola Afolabi, to the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, Most Rev Augustine Akubeze and the Parish Priest of St Paul Catholic Church, Rev Fr. Nosakhare Omorogbe, the Enogie said the church illegally purchased the land in connivance with some people parading themselves as community development association in the community.
“They took over our client’s community lands including our client’s ancestral home which was utterly destroyed and bulldozed,” one of the letters alleged.
“The land in question measures up to over 35 plots on which the church erected several structures even after been aware of the confirmation of the position of our client by an order of court in a judgement delivered on the 23rd Day of June 2014 in suit number B/339/2009 in a case which lasted for about four years,” It added.
Reacting, the Chancellor, Catholic Archdiocese of Benin, Rev Fr. Michael Oyanoafor, denied the allegation, saying the church acquired the land from the elders of the community to build schools to bring development to the community.
“I do not think his case is tenable because St Paul’s Catholic Church was given land by the community to build a church and the church has been there for more than 10 years.
“The community didn’t have a school and they gave the land to the church and we built a nursery and primary school. They were to pay a stipend but the church discovered that they couldn’t pay. The church requested for more land to also build a secondary which is on-going and then decide to make education free for them.”