By Ijendu Iheaka
Aba (Abia), Aug. 14, 2019
A community in Abia has written Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu to stop Enyimba Economic City Ltd. from forceful acquisition of their lands for the project.
Members of the Umuodeke-Umudobia community in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia said they did not have land to accommodate the project.
A letter signed by the community’s lawyer, Chief Sam Ogbonna, said the members of the community frowned at the forceful acquisition of their lands for the project.
The letter was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Aba.
Ogbonna said that the letter had been delivered to the Governor’s Office.
However, the Abia state Commissioner for Information, Mr John Okeiyi-Kalu denied knowledge of such a letter.
Okeiyi-Kalu told NAN that he had not seen a letter from the Umuodeke-Umudobia Community, adding that the state government was ever willing to address grievances by any community in the state.
According to Ogbonna, members of the community are saying they do not have any available land to offer the government because the little they have will not be enough as their ancestral home for farming.
He said the community was not happy about the development because it amounted to depriving them of their livelihood, “which is farming’’.
“Our clients informed us and we believe them that the Ministry of Lands, Survey, and Urban Development, Abia has concluded arrangements without their consent or prior knowledge to forcibly acquire their parcels of lands for the proposed Enyimba Economic City Project.
“They have instructed us to convey to your esteemed office through the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban Development that their parcel of lands customarily known as and called ‘Egbelu’ and ‘Mbombo’ lands.
“The lands, which they inherited from their forefathers many decades ago jointly and severally and have been in peaceful possession in respect thereof, is not for sale or donation to anybody or organisation for any project whatsoever.
“It is an indisputable fact known to all and sundry that our clients are predominantly farmers whose survival is dependent on their farm products,’’ he said.
Ogbonna said that for these reasons, the community could not afford to relinquish their parcel of lands, which they periodically partition for farming purposes and in some instances, apportion same to male adults for farmhouse.
He said the survival of members of the community, who earn their living through farming, could not be compromised for any project as they do not have any other source of livelihood, except farming.
The lawyer alleged that some infiltrators claiming authorisation from Abia government had unlawfully bulldozed their way into parcel of lands at Egbelu and Mbombo.
He further claimed that the alleged infiltrators surveyed the community lands without the people’s consent and authorisation, adding that some people were still making efforts to commence partitioning of the parcel of lands.
“The community therefore warns that any such action by any person who entered their lands without their permission will be vehemently resisted.
“They said that the plan to dispossess them of their only source of livelihood is unacceptable to them and could result in a legal action, if their peaceful disposition was rejected.
“We are very optimistic that the plight of our client in this regard will touch the meek and benevolent heart of our dear governor,” he said.