IN THE world over, land is a scarce commodity, for every community is in dire need of this scarce commodity. Land serves various purposes. It is used for building houses, factories, mining and this is why people scramble to own land and even go ahead to claim the one(s) they did not own through nefarious means.
The above setting as noted earlier, is all over the globe, but, the scramble for land ownership is higher in the developing countries, Nigeria inclusive.
In Nigeria, cases of bloodbaths as a result of fighting over the title ownership of land are very many to mention. Even in some cases, communities have been razed while the few citizens that were lucky to escape death have become refugees in their homestead.
Land, a necessary evil could be owned through many ways, like by inheritance, buying from the initial owner, mortgage, lease, or rent, etc. In some cases, especially in the olden days,
when the population of people was minimal, the early settlers in a particular area do give large areas of land to new comers to the area to settle down in the area which now gives the settlers right of ownership.
This system of land ownership is a common feature among the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria, now known as the South East Zone, comprising of Anambra, Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi and Abia States respectively. In those early days, they lived a homogeneous life helping each other and settled their differences with maturity without recourse to violence or bloodbath.
But as the days wore on with the attendant extraneous factors that include greed for money, increase in population and man’s insatiable want to dominate his fellow human beings, things started changing, most especially when it became open that land is a goldmine.
With this discovery, people who for decades past have been living in harmony, sharing what they have in common, started laying claim to ownership of lands including those that were freely and unconditionally leased to their neighbours by their great grand fathers years back.
This has made many communities to be on war part with one community or the other with horror tales to tell by the few survivors, not to talk of the quantum of property that are usually destroyed during such wars.
Many communities have been in court for donkey years spending both human and economic resources to determine the ownership of a particular piece of land or even the boundary of the land between one neighbouring community and the order and even between neighbouring states and each other.
At times, even cases decided by the apex court in the land – the Supreme Court, would not go down well with the community that lost.
people, instead of obeying the court order would resort to illegal means to claim the land especially by intentionally encroaching into the land so as to provoke the other community which at the end, results to fighting accompanied with its negative antecedents.
Government at various levels and times has come up with policies and measures to contain this wanton destruction of property and bloodbaths, as even government edifices are not spared but to no avail.
However, respite is in the horizon, for in Anambra State, the Anambra State Boundary Committee that was established in line with the National Boundary Commission with the mandate to handle internal and intra-boundary problems within the state and any other dispute as it concerns interstate boundary disputes,
has been able to restore peace to various warring communities in the state by amicably demarcating and settling their boundary differences.
Today, the Anambra State Boundary Committee, which has the deputy governor of the state, Dr Nkem Okeke, as chairman, has been able to successfully settle the boundary problems/disputes of many communities that include the age long Ikenga-Ogidi/Umusiome-Nkpor boundary dispute;
Igbariam/Nando boundary dispute, Amanuke/Mgbakwu, Umuoji-Ogidi/Ngbuka, Umunachi, Abatete/Ideani, Ekwulobia/Nkpologwu land disputes, etc and the people of these communities are enjoying peace.
In the words of the executive secretary of the state boundary committee, Sir Emmanuel Nwokoye, the committee has done a lot of works in the past and would continue to determine any boundary dispute without fear or favour, no matter whose ox is gored with a view to define and delineate boundaries between one community and another to avoid rancor and bloodbath among the communities involved.
All these communities that their boundaries have been clearly defined and delineated by the committee are today to a very large extent, enjoying peace with the attendant massive development, for where there is peace, there will be development.”
The Anambra State Boundary Committee that is made up of 15 distinguished members, no doubt, took into cognisance the intention and aspiration of the present administration of the state, headed by Governor Willie Obiano to provide massive and unequalled development to all the crannies of the 179 communities in the state which would be made possible if there exists peace in the communities.
To this end, the chairman of the committee, Dr. Nkem Okeke, who is also the deputy governor of the state and his team, in order to achieve the much needed peace that would aid the government to provide the much needed democracy dividends,
employed many conflict resolution methodologies in achieving ever lasting peace among the various communities that are involved, inviting the leaders and opinion molders of the various warring groups to series of meetings where panacea to achieve peace are discussed,
visits to the dispute area to have first hand information despite the bad terrain of some of these areas, and series of sensitisation with stakeholders in the respect of the need for co-existence as “sensitization is a good, effective and efficient weapon to solving boundary matters.
It is also a naked fact that why most of government infrastructure do not last is due to lack of maintenance culture, but, that is not the case with the activities of the Anambra State Boundary Committee, for the committee has put in place a robust machinery that would checkmate the activities of hoodlums and miscreants that destroy monuments mounted in areas under dispute.
According to the executive secretary, Sir Nwokoye, the committee has not and would not relent in its avowed determination in applying legal action towards any community that is bent in destroying monuments planted in areas under dispute.
Nevertheless, a coin has two faces – the good and the bad and this is applicable to all spheres of life. Anambra State Boundary committee is facing lots of challenges among which are-resistance from which ever community that feels that it was not favoured.
The people take laws into their hands, that at times, they attack, wound, assault and embarrass our field works. Topography is also a problem for the terrain of most of the communities are death traps, more especially during the rainy season, finance and shortage of man power,
confrontation from land speculators who see areas in dispute as a goldmine as they use the opportunity to sell the land to unsuspecting members of the public . In some cases, the presidents general of some communities or the chairmen of villages do not tell their people the truth because they benefit from the crises, etc.
However, the Anambra State Boundary Committee has lived up to expectation, hence most of the 179 communities in the state have continued to be developed by Governor Obiano led administration due to existing peace in these various communities navigated by the Anambra State Boundary Committee, which has placed the state above others depicting the