A businessman and owner of one of the tallest buildings in the South West Region, Eric Igwacho, has been accused of conniving with authorities in Limbe to seize a piece of land belonging to the Nganju family.
He recently brought a bulldozer to start working on the 038.6-meter-square plot located in New Town, Limbe I Subdivision.
This is despite stiff opposition from members of the Nganju family, who say they have owned the land since 1986.
One of the family members, Ndonfack Etienne Nganju, told MMI Igwacho’s bulldozer “destroyed my foundation, my crops, and his workers beat up my mother, who’s a widow.”
He said Mr. Igwacho, who is a successful businessman based in the USA, has been struggling to buy the plot from the family to no avail.
“He went behind and bribed the administration of Fako. They wrote a letter to the Minister of State Property, Surveys, and Land Tenure stating that our compound is a marshy area and, thus, a state land. They told the minister to give it to Eric Igwacho,” Ndonfack said.
Historical claim of ownership
Evidence MMI obtained from the Nganju Family reveals that the disputed plot has a Land Certificate issued by the then Limbe Subdivisional Officer on July 5, 1994.
The certificate grants ownership of the land to Mr David Nganju Akawong, the deceased head of the Nganju Family.
The land also possesses a Property Attestation document signed by the then Paramount Chief of Limbe Subdivision, Chief F.B. Manga Williams, on March 14, 1986.
However, Mr Igwacho, who is now forcefully occupying the land, has reportedly presented no legal document confirming his ownership of the plot.
He, however, enjoys the support of the Senior Divisional Officer for Fako, and the Divisional Officer of Limbe I.
Based on documents MMI obtained, the deceased head of the Nganju Family, David Nganju, bought the land from Limunga Ewonda Otilia of New Town Limbe on March 13, 1986, at the cost of FCFA 800,000.
However, no meaningful construction has been done on the land for the past 37 years.
MINCAF to weighs in
The Ministry of State Property, Surveys and Land Tenure (MINCAF) will be sending a two-member delegation to Limbe to ascertain the ownership of the disputed land.
Ndonfack Etienne says he had petitioned the Minister, opposing claims by the Fako administration that the land was mashy and is therefore state property.
“I wrote an opposition letter, which the Minister replied and said a team from Yaounde will come and investigate who actually is the rightful owner of the land,” he said.
On July 14, 2023, the Minister of State Property, Surveys and Land Tenure, Henri Eyebe Ayissi, dispatched letters to Eric Igwacho, Ndonfack Etienne and the Divisional Delegation of MINCAF, notifying them about the pending mission.
In the letter addressed to the Fako Divisional Delegate of MINCAF, Minister Ayissi said the envoy will be coming “to ascertain the real owner of this parcel of land”.
It will consist of two officials of the Sub-Direction of National Land at MINCAF, Boyogueno Christiane and Youchiya Chupanje Colette Flora.
The Minister did not, however, specify the date on which the envoy will arrive at the plot.
On the other hand, the businessman Eric Igwacho has continued working on the land and has been preventing members of the Nganju Family from making use of the plot.
The Nganju Family believes he is using his financial influence to forcefully take ownership of their land.
Mr Igwacho is a respected businessman who owns a guest house in Limbe — described as one of the tallest buildings in the South West Region of Cameroon.
MMI is yet to get a reaction from the businessman.