It was a day of wailing in Ulegun, a peaceful and growing community on the Benin-Abraka Road as thousands of home owners wailed and rolled on the ground as they watched their life-time investments broken into rubbles and ruins by bulldozers ordered by the palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II.
Plot after plot, the bulldozers crawled over 80 houses and other belongings worth billions of naira and threw the law-abiding home owners into the streets.
Even pots of soups, medicines for the sick and milk for babies were not spared in the onslaught as the owners were not allowed to remove their belongings from their homes.
Currently, the displaced former Ulegun landlords and landladies are taking refuge in the homes of friends and families in neighboring communities praying for justice to come quickly.
Strangely, the leader of the chiefs from the palace and Secretary to the Benin Traditional Council, Mr. Frank Irabor, had no court order or judgement to execute, what the victims called, such unprecedented illegality in a state where law and order reign supreme.
As if the wanton destruction was not enough, the Village Head, Enogie Sunday Eghosasere Omoregie, and the Chief Priest of the community, Ohen Philip Uwuoroya, were adopted and brutalised in a style reminiscent of the German Gestapo Police during the Nazi regime.
Recalling the series of events in Ulegun Village, the community’s Queen Mother, Mrs. Rose Omoregie, who gave an eye witness account, said that “the community head was called for a meeting last Wednesday and since then, he had not returned home.”
According to Mrs. Omoregie, “the Enogie inherited the land in dispute between the Ulegun Community and Ukhiri Community from his grandfather and the land belongs to the Ulegun Community and not the reigning Oba of Benin as claimed by the palace chiefs. The dispute over the land has since 1974 been settled and resolved in favour of the Ulegun community from the palace of Oba Akenzua up to the Supreme Court”.
Those affected in the demolition have also accused the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration of being complicit in the whole drama.
It was, however, gathered that the Edo State Government has facilitated the release of the Ulegun Community head and the chief priest.
The former homeowners “want the injustice redressed as the Nigerian Constitution should be King in a democratic era as against the raw, unrestrained, unbridled and illegal powers of some traditional rulers and government officials”.