Since President Mohammadu Buhari has shown that he could fight for justice, I had thought that with the revisiting of June 12 elections in Nigeria, he would have used his good offices to ensure that the injustice of the abandoned property was addressed to make for full reconciliation in Nigeria.
The history of the abandoned property in Rivers State (especially in Port Harcourt) dates back to when the Federal troops took control of Port Harcourt during the Nigerian Civil War, the hinterland Igbo fled northwards. When the Nigerian troops took over Aba, the Igbo people continued to run back. The same thing happened after Umuahia, Owerri, etc., fell to the federal troops. From the northern part of Biafra, it was the same story when the federal troops captured Nsukka and Enugu.
After the war, the Federal Government came up with the No-victor No-vanquished policy as well as the three R’s: Rehabilitation, Reconciliation, and Reconstruction.
Consequently, the Igbos licked their wounds and went back to their pre-war stations in different parts of Nigeria. Those who got back to Rivers State (and a few other parts of Nigeria) got a rude shock awaiting them. The property they legitimately acquired and duly registered with lands before the civil war had been confiscated and regarded as “abandoned property.” Abandoned property in one’s country? It sounded like a joke. But curiously, it stayed and the owners were dying out of broken heart. Nigerians converted and confiscated their compatriots’ property and carried on as if nothing happened from 1970 till date.
President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the participants at the opening ceremony of the International Press Institute (IPI) World Congress 2018 held at the State House Conference Center Abuja.
Nobody knows how many of the direct victims of this injustice died of heart break, seeing their countrymen use the power of government to unjustly confiscate property they laboured for years to build under the pretence that the property was abandoned. There were stories of people in some parts of Nigeria (particularly in the North) who looked after their friends’ property throughout the war, and when the war was over, they not only handed them back to their friends, they also handed them money collected as rent during the civil war. But in Rivers State, landlords who had lost their capital returned after the war to the rude shock that they had also lost the only property they were banking on. They were without shelter, while watching another occupy the house of their sweat. The cries of anguish of such men and their people should not be taken for granted.
The owners of that abandoned property injustice are still asking for justice. The time has come, a God-fearing man sent to unite and rescue the Nigeria nation has come. He restored our belief in Nigeria as by the proclamation of June 12 as our democracy day, awarding posthumously the highest National award to Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of that election and apologized to the country, thus, bringing the whole of the south west to great One Nigeria.
President Mohammadu Buhari and the APC government should lean on the power of God and do the right thing on the abandoned property injustice by restoring the property confiscated by the obnoxious abandoned property policy in Rivers State to the owners and apologize to the owners on behalf of the Nigeria nation for wrongly keeping their property for over 48 years. If he does it, many God-fearing, justice-loving indigenes of Nigerians and South East people will rally round him. But will President Mohammadu Buhari muster the courage to right this wrong? The answer is YES. President Mohammadu Buhari can do it.