Market women, mostly widows, numbering over 500 at the Pocket Layout Market Woliwo, Fegge, Onitsha South Local Government Area, Anambra State, on Thursday, clashed with the Ukwa family of Onitsha over the claim to the ownership of the market land.
During the clash, goods worth millions of naira and shops were destroyed.
The women, led by Anthonia Nnamele and Theresa Chukwuemeka, lamented that they were given allocation papers by the Anambra State Government, before they built their shops, but were surprised that the Ukwa family approached them to vacate the place.
Nnamele said the administration of Dr Jim Nwobodo, the Onitsha South Local Government Area authorities, and the then Obi of Onitsha, had issued them the allocation papers and approval before they started erecting structures in the early 1980s.
She added that the cost of building her shop as of then was N180,000 and have been trading there under successive administrations without any harassment from government officials or any family until the Ukwa family came and served them quit notice with the claim that they have won the government in a court matter over the land.
She said that apart from getting approval from the government, they also settled and got approval from Igbokwe and Ezeudoye families who are their landlords, and since they started staying there over the years, nobody has come to lay claims to the land or heard that the land was in dispute.
A representative and also consultant of the Ukwa family of Onitsha, Tony Onyido, said that they only took over what belongs to them which has been denied them over the years.
Onyido denied the destruction of shops and goods belonging to the traders by his family, saying they went there to invite traders who still want to trade for negotiation with the family.
According to Onyido, we contested the land with Obosi people and finally got judgement in 1968 against Obosi people, but were not allowed to execute the judgement by the government.
“However, five years ago we went back to court and have been vigorously following the mater in both court and government and finally the government recognized us as the authentic owners of the land and we made publication in the newspaper last year and gave the general public notice that anybody who is laying claim to the land should come to Anambra State Ministry of Lands to show ownership after 21 days nobody came to contest it and government gazetted it as our own.”
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