By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—AN Edo State High Court sitting in Fugar, has awarded the sum of N100 million to the families of Idinrio, Idumuboh and Uzebu clans in Okaigben – Ewohimi, in Esan South-East Local Government Area of the state, as general damages against Trinity Plantation Limited, Chief Chinye Okwuoma and others, over trespass on their family farm lands.
However, the court exempted the 7th and 13th defendants in the suit, Chief Anthony Aisewomion and Ministry of Lands, Survey and Housing, Edo State, from payment of the damages.
The claimants in the suit were Prof Joseph Okogun, Elder Samuel Eboigbe, Elder Fe!ix Odigie, Saturday Okogun, Philip Odigie, Stanley Odigie, Andrew Eronse, Godwin Ighodalo, Osariemen Ighodalo and Monday Edoze.
The defendants in the case were: Trinity Plantations Limited, Chief Chinye Okwuoma, Pa Albert Odigie, Pa Omodiagbe Ehiosun, Pa Okonoboh Iden, Pa Asuelimen Abhukhegbe, Chief Anthony Aisewomion, Chief Eriaremhen Idagun, Richard Akhator, Monday Itepu, Julius Osoh, Chief Matthew Ukpebor and Ministry of Lands, Survey and Housing, Edo State.
In his judgment, trial judge, Justice Aigbuloko Oyakhirome, also held that “the claimants are entitled to the customary right of occupancy over all that piece or parcel of land having boundaries with the neighbouring communities farmland of Idumujunor and Idumuji – Ugboko in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, Ewatto and Idumu – Agho clan in Okaigben – Ewohimi in Esan South East council, Edo State.”
The court held that the defendants wrongly, forcefully and without authority invaded the farmland of the claimants.
Further more, the court said that it had considered the impunity of the 1st and 2nd defendants, their invasion of the claimants’ farmland, bulldozing same before approaching the wrong people for consent, hiding the real nature of the agreement, preventing people from going near their farmland with armed guards.
The court also restrained the defendants whether by themselves, agents, servants, nominees, representatives from further acts of trespass into claimants’ land and awarded the sum of N50, 000 against the defendants, saved the 7th and 13th defendants.
The claimants had gone to the court to among other reliefs seek a declaration that they were entitled to a customary right of occupancy over all that piece or parcel of land having boundary with their neighbouring communities farmland of Idumujunor and Idumuji- Ugboko in Aniocha North, Delta State, Ewatto and Idumu- Agho clan in Okaigben – Ewohimi in Esan South East, Edo State.