President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the minister of defence and service chiefs to investigate military officers allegedly converting to personal use, lands donated by communities.
Buhari gave the order when he played host to a delegation of Urhobo Traditional Rulers, the leadership of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) and Urhobo members in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
They were led by Laiteguen Ogbon-Ogoni Oghoro 1, a monarch who is 100 years old.
The delegation appealed to Buhari to prevail on the military to return their lands which have been allegedly sold out for non-military uses.
“We urge the federal government to look into the issue of lands which we voluntarily donated to the military years ago but which are now being farmed out in parcels and sold out for non-military uses,” a representative of the delegation said.
“We request that such lands be returned to the owner communities in Urhobo land.”
Buhari assured them that military officers behind the act would be dealt with.
“I have taken note of your representation that the land given to the military is being sold. You are not the first to make this representation, so by this representation I am constrained to tell the responsible ministry to check and find out, whoever is responsible in abusing the generosity extended to the military will be brought to book. I assure you of that,” he said
The military and Uwvie community in Effurun, Delta state, have been at loggerheads over alleged sale of lands donated by the community.
In 1975, the Nigerian Army acquired parcels of land from the then mid-western state government.
It was acquired by the military for the construction of the present day Effurun barracks, though the Land Use Act vests all land in the government that holds such land in trust for the people, was not yet promulgated at the time of acquisition.
There were also reports compensation was not paid to the families who own the land as required by the law.
After the construction of the barracks in 1979, large portions of lands were left unused for many years, and later sold to private individuals.