Rights group demands justice as Ebonyi govt demolishes farmers' homes

According to the group, the houses were demolished for the state's airport project.

Group accuses Ebonyi State Government of demolishing homes of peasant farmers [Sampson Nweke]

A group, the Human Rights Defenders of Nigeria, has expressed its displeasure over the "forceful and unlawful" demolition of the ancestral homes of the indigenes of Ezza-North local government area of Ebonyi State for the airport project.

According to the group, some security personnel on the instruction of the Ebonyi State Government, led bulldozers to demolish the houses for the purpose of building an airport on Thursday, February 6, 2020.

The Ebonyi state chairman of the rights group, Sampson Oko Nweke, assured the victims of the demolition of justice through the court of law.

In a statement made available to journalists after its executive meeting on Saturday, February 8, 2020, Nweke maintained that the bulldozing some communities in Ezza North for the construction of the airport was done without due consultation and compensation.

He said his group is not against the airport project by the state government or the location of the project, but the "unlawful, inconsiderate and delinquent processes" of acquiring the lands (people's villages) for that purpose.

He regretted the "hurriedness of the governor to displace, dislodge and dislocate the poor Ezza people and render them homeless".

He queried why the governor disregarded the court of law before which the matter between the people and the state government is still pending.

"How can the government just rise in utter disrespect to court proceedings, invade people's ancestral homes with heavily armed security men and start destroying and demolishing their houses, farmlands, economic trees, churches, and shrines without due consolations, fair compensations or alternative settlements," he said.

"This total show of disrespect for the rights of the common people. A development stride should be a source of succor and comfort and shouldn't mean to inflict pains, agony and sorrow.

"This recent action of the state government is totally condemnable, utterly reprehensible and worrisomely shameful and must be seen and regarded as such," Nweke lamented.

He expressed worry over the condition of the displaced people who he said "now wallow like rodents with no roof over their heads".

He said the group would explore all available avenues within the known boundaries of the law, to ensure the situation are timely remedied and damages adequately recompensed.

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