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Abba/Ukpo Land Dispute: Critic Tackles National Dailies Over Published Story, Misleading Headline

Awka-based Social Critic and Public Affair Analyst, Emmanuel Azowue, has accused some Nigeria dailies of availing their platforms for deceiving and misinforming the public.

Reacting to a story on Daily Independent of Daily Independent newspaper of Tuesday, October 31 2023, and headline on the front page of the Daily Sun newspaper of Wednesday, November 1 2023 which reads: “Ukpo community wins as Supreme court resolves protracted land tussle with Abba” Azowue said there are strong indications that the dailies were out for mischiefs.

He clarified that the recent Supreme court judgement was on solely on Abagana/Ukpo land dispute, and did not by any stretch involve Abba, alleging that the newspapers and their writers were deliberate on publishing falsehood with intents to puncture the psychology and fighting spirit of the people of Abba community, as well as misleading Nigerians and the world that the Supreme Court had decided on the case between Abba and Ukpo communities”.

Giving history of the Abba/Ukpo land dispute; leading to the Supreme Court ordering for the retrial of the case, as was also interpreted by an Administrative Panel of Inquiry constituted by the Anambra State Government under former Governor Willie Obiano, the concerned critic noted that the Abba/Ukpo land matter “is still before the Supreme Court”, and asked the management of Daily Sun to get prepared for a legal showdown.

Below is the opinion piece 👇, just as there’s right to reply.


In a news report by the Independent Newspaper, published on 31st October 2023 and written by one Benneth Joshua had it that the Supreme Court had on Tuesday dismissed the lingering dispute between Abagana and Ukpo communities, but the writer must have been wrongly informed as he held that both Abagana and Ukpo are communities in Dunukofia LGA in Anambra state, but the true information is that Abagana is in Njikoka LGA, while Ukpo is in Dunukofia LGA, all in Anambra State.

In the third paragraph of the report, the writer allowed himself to be used to deceive and misinformed the general public as he wrote that, “It will be recalled that the Abagana, Abba and Ukpo communities land dispute had been decided by the Supreme Court in favour of Ukpo Community in an earlier judgment”, but the truth is that at no time was there any joint land dispute case between Abagana, Abba and Ukpo communities, hence the position of Benneth Joshua becomes questionable and only suggested that he had been bought over to publish falsehood with the intent to deceive and mislead Nigerians and the world that the Supreme Court had decided on the case between Abba and Ukpo communities which is still before the Supreme Court.

And to further confirm that Benneth Josua was a writer paid to write his story in favour of Ukpo community with the intent to puncture the psychology and fighting spirit of the people of Abba community, he sort the view of a supposed acclaimed media consultant to Ukpo community, one Mr. Ikechi Victorson without attempting to hear from the people of Abba as to have a balance and objective reporting on the matter.

The acclaimed media consultant from Ukpo community, Mr. Ikechi Victorson went ahead to argue that, “In about two of the cases filed by the litigants from the communities, the judges struck out the cases in favour of the Ukpo community up to the level of the Court of Appeal. He went further to claim that, “In one of such judgments in a similar case assigned to the High Court in Neni Judicial Division, the Abba community case was decided in favour of Ukpo community”. “In that instance, the Judge held that the matter had been decided by the Supreme Court and that no other court in the country has the right to adjudicate on the matter as it has already been ruled upon by the Apex court…”

IKechi Victorson concluded that, “Today’s judgment by Justice Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court has put an end to the rigorous practiced strategy of resurrecting the same case under different guise in various courts”.

A further desperation of the people of Ukpo was demonstrated when they got Daily Sun Newspaper to publish a malicious and deceptive headline in their newspaper reading: Ukpo Community wins as Supreme Court Resolves Protracted Land Tussle with Abba. But before addressing the deceptive and misinformed move of Benneth Joshua and Ikechi Victorson, I will want the management of Daily Sun to get prepared for a legal showdown with Abba community for allowing its media outlet to be used to publish false news against the people of Abba which has a damaging psychological effect on the peace and law abiding people of the community. And they should also be ready to give the same headline publicity retracting this malicious news published in their newspaper.

Done with that, I will love to educate the ignorance mind of Benneth Joshua and Ikechi Victorson in order to set the issue under contention straight as not to deceive the general public into believing the falsehood being promoted by these deceitful duo – Benneth Joshue and Ikechi Victorson whose sole intent is to muddle up the decided Supreme Court issue between Abagana and Ukpo, with that of Abba, Ukwulu and Ukpo that are separate cases and bears different claims by the disputants.

Recall that under the administration of Willie Obiano as the executive Governor of Anambra State, the people of Abba wrote a petition to the Governor regarding the illegal arrest, harassment and detention of their people by the Nigeria Police which was orchestrated by the Ukpo money bag, Prince Arthur Eze, who hinged his witch-hunt against the people of Abba on a purported ruling of the Supreme Court on the land dispute between the people of Abba, Ukwulu and UKpo communities, where he claimed that the land dispute between the three communities had been decided in favour of Ukpo, hence his encroachment into the land. To this end, Willie Obiano decided to constitute an Administrative Panel of Inquiry headed by Hon. Justice Chinenye Anigbogu (Rtd).

For the avoidance of doubt and distortion of facts on the land dispute matter between Abba and Ukwulu/Ukpo, the true interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment on the matter as was being clarified by the Administrative Panel of Inquiry set up by the Anambra State Government, headed by Hon. Justice Chinenye Anigbogu (Rtd) in the White Paper report stated inter alia:

Regarding Abba, Ukwulu and Ukpo, the panel found as fact that the judgment of the Supreme Court in Appeal No. SC. 598.2016 in the consolidated suit: AA/53/75 & AA/11/77, Nwora Vs Nwabueze & others reported in (2019)7 NWLR. Pt. 1670. 1, which was brought to the notice of the panel did not address the issue of the ownership of the disputed land.

That the appeal by Abba to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court was for an order directing the Chief Judge of Anambra State to assign the case to another High Court Judge for the trial to start afresh and not on the ownership of the land because they couldn’t file an appeal over the ownership because of the records were lost.

That the Supreme Court, while dismissing the appeal for an order for the Chief Judge to re-assign the file for hearing de-novo, found that the judgment was unenforceable because of the loss of the record book. It therefore made some recommendations that the parties should go back to the trial court to sort the mess.

That in dismissing the appeal of Abba for the Supreme Court to order for a fresh hearing, the Supreme Court Per Paul Adamu Galumje JSC reading the lead judgment (p.32) said: “In the instant case that is in place, what I call ‘Force Major’ an unexpected occurrence which has the capacity to defeat even the enforcement of the judgment obtained at the trial court in the two consolidated suits. It follows therefore, if nothing is done, there will be a total failure of justice. The loss of the record of appeal is a factor that has in my view vitiated and rendered the judgment invalid. Is there a way of enforcing the judgment in the absence of the record of the case? This is what may unfold later. I think it is in the best interest of the parties to go back to the trial court to sort out the mess”.

That the standing court judgments and pending suits have not had any positive impact on the peaceful resolution of the disputes on all sides.

That with regard to the missing Court Records, a Report of the Panel of Inquiry set up by the Chief Judge and headed by the Hon. Justice P.A.C. Obidigwe, as he then was, dated 11/09/2006, was tendered before us. That the 109 page Report found as fact that the Record Books were actually lost in the Appeal section of the High Court and could not be found.

In line with the recommendation of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, the people of Abba community commenced a new legal process on the land dispute, and this process is today before the Supreme Court for a final determination and ruling. Hence, the people of Abba community were surprised when they got the malicious and false news in some lead national dailies that the Supreme Court had ruled on the land dispute issue between Abba, Ukwulu and Ukpo in favour of Ukpo community, when the matter that was ruled on presently was between Abagana and Ukpo communities.

This only suggests that Prince Arthur Eze and a hand full of his supporters from Ukpo community were out for a deceitful parade and action, aimed at deceiving the public that the Supreme Court has eventually ruled on the Abba, Ukwulu and Ukpo communities land dispute. Surprisingly, Ukwulu was never mentioned as one of the disputing parties in the land dispute, when originally the land dispute was between Abba and Ukwulu, and Ukpo was only a witness that only recently asked to be joined by the court as an interested and disputing party.

What this implies is that Ukpo community led by Prince Arthur Eze has concluded plans to exclude the people of Ukwulu as beneficiaries of the land if the ruling of the court goes in their favour, implying that all along Prince Arthur Eze has been deceiving Ukwulu and his people from Ukpo that they are collectively in a land dispute with Abba, when in truth, the present land dispute has been a battle between Abba and Prince Arthur Eze.

While the people of Abba are waiting patiently for the final ruling of the matter by the Supreme Court, it will be necessary to debunk the present malicious and deceitful news that has gone viral that the Supreme Court has actually ruled in the land dispute matter between Abba, Ukwulu and Ukpo. The general public should not be deceived into believing such false news as nothing of such took place, and this desperate misinformation only suggest that Prince Arthur Eze and his cohorts are scared of the possible outcome of the Abba and Ukwulu/Ukpo land dispute, hence his present deceptive move.

Azowue O. Emmanuel
Social Critic and Public Affair Analyst
Based in Awka, Anambra State

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