By Afam Echi
The Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO) Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Eze has debunked the widely held views that the University has ceded some portions of land to the host community.
He made the clarifications Monday during a Press briefing at the Senate Chambers of the school while addressing journalists on the impasse between the school and the host communities.
He stated that the briefing was necessary to straighten the records given the abundance of lies, fabrication, and blackmail from the attorney of the host communities, adding that the Vice Chancellor is now falsely seen as the problem.
Debunking allegations that his interest in FUTO lands is standing on the way of the communities acquiring some compensatory lands, he stated clearly FUTO has not ceded any land to anybody.
In his words, ‘‘we have not returned any inch of FUTO land to anybody, let alone 300 or 1000 hectares. It is not possible. Property of FUTO belongs to the federal government. We have no powers to cede an inch of FUTO land.’’
He however, admitted that following pressure the University Council have conceded to yield about 1000 hectares, a proposal that is still in the works through a Committee even as he remarked that the present FUTO land is not even enough to meet its future developmental needs.
Eze promised that yielding any portion of land back to the host communities will also follow the same process through which the lands were acquired by routing it to the state government who donated the lands to the federal government for them to reach out to the communities.
He condemned the desperation of Sam Anukam whom he said is driven by pecuniary interest of 20% from the recoveries made, wondering why his personal interest should override public good. The renowned physicist also queried why the traditional rulers are not involved in the agitation as is expected.
Responding to the allegation of his personal interest in FUTO land, the Orlu born professor stated that his interest is borne out the desire to create a future for which he will be remembered in terms of value addition to the school and host communities. Hear him, ‘’what interest do I have? We want to put something better down for which we will be remembered. In few years time my interest will speak for us. My interest is to secure FUTO land for common good’’
He expressed regret that the Avu area of the land is where the University medical school is supposed to be located is the area that is suffering more encroachment now.
Reeling out the benefits of having a federal teaching hospital in the state he expressed shock that an Imo indigene would be the one obstructing it through encroachment. The VC warned those transacting on those areas risks losing their money reminding that they have continually been doing advertorials and placing ‘Caveat Emptor’ (let the buyer beware) warning.