From Ada Nebolise, Awka
The people of Umueri in Anambra East local government area of the state have accused the the government of supporting their Aguleri neighbours to forcefully take over their land.
They alleged that the governor, Willie Obiano, his Commissioner of Works and Chief of Staff were supporting their Aguleri kinsmen to steal their land in the name of building an airport. To drive hime their allegation the women of Umueri in their numbers especially widows, protested nude Monday in the community, accusing the state government of land grab.
The leader of the protesting women, Mama Ugo Nwakonuche, said their children and grand children would not have land to build houses again if what she called injustice against her people, was allowed to go unchallenged.
Displaying placards that showed their anger, the protesting women women waved placards with different inscriptions like “Obiano and Aguleri leave our land alone”, what you are doing to Umueri is not why we voted for you,” “Umueri are not cowards.”
The Chairman of the area, Chief Uchenna Ndumanya, who spoke to journalists at the protest ground of the Cargo Airport Road in Umueri, said the government should revert to the 729.66 hectares of land the community gave it for the Airport project and stop encroaching on Umueri land
He alleged that instead of building the said airport on the land given to them by the community during the era of Dr Chris Ngige, that the present administration had encroached on additional 1,901 hectares of their land, while abandoning the first.
According to Ndumanya, “We are the people of Ifite Umueri. We are people that donated airport land to the Anambra State Government during the Dr Chris Ngige regime, about 14 years ago.
“When we donated the land we gave them about 729.66 hectares but now they have left that particular place we donated to them and just encroached into our individual land.
“They now encroaching into about 1901 hectares, about times three of what we gave them. We had our first protest on the matter in 2019.
“And since then nothing has been done. We petitioned to the Commissioner of Police, the Directorate of State Service DSS both at the Federal and state, nothing has happened.
” We’ve gone to governor’s office; gone to SSG’s office. Day by day they are building on the land with impunity. Sharing the land amongst themselves.
“And particular place we gave them, they left it – nothing has been done there. We are here to let the world hear our cry because all our efforts had been scuttled.
” The governor is from Aguleri, the Commissioner for Works is from Aguleri; the chief of staff is from Aguleri. When you are explaining those things to them, it looks like speaking to a deaf ear because they are our age long rivals.
“They want to turn us to refugees in our community; but we can’t be turned to Internally Displaced Persons IDPs in our own land because of airport.
“This is all about this protest. The airport work is going on but on the land we originally gave them. They have rather shared the original land we gave them amongst themselves and encroached into our individual land to build the airport.
“The implication is that Aguleri has succeeded in relocating Umueri from our original place. We don’t want the airport again. We can’t be displaced because of the airport.
“We thought the airport will bring development to our land, we didn’t know they are thinking of another. We will continue this protest by staying for one month.
“All these houses, schools will be demolished according to their plans for the airport. The whole of this community will be displaced if we allow this their evil machinations to work.
No environmental impact assessment, nothing because Aguleri wants to exterminate Umueri from the surface of the earth. We won’t allow that to be. What they are drumming is another war between Umueri and Aguleri ” he said
In his reaction, the Commissioner for Information and public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, said the state government was not keeping quiet as the issue of compensation was still ongoing
Adinuba, said the issue of war threats should not arise as a meeting had been scheduled between the governor, Chief Willie Obiano and the community Tuesday
According to him, “The Airport project is a huge one for not only Umueri because it’s cited in their area, but for the people of Anambra State and indeed, the entire Southeast region.
“We should forget this issue of war always and think of the massive developments coming to those areas. That war ended many years ago and will not come again.”