From Uchenna Ezeadigwe,
Umueri women in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State numbering over fifty, on Monday, protested what they called forceful takeover of their land by the state government on the pretext of building an airport.
They accused Governor Willie Obiano and government officials of partitioning their land for personal use and gain leading to the breach of initial agreement.
The women, who barricaded the entrance of the airport from the expressway with palm fronts also marched round the airport premises singing, burning tyres and making unprintable remarks about the governor.
The demonstrators equally issued unprintable names, varied placards, some of which inscriptions read: “We cannot be refugees in our own land,” “Willie Obiano, leave our land alone,” “No official Environmental Impact/Health and Social Assessment, no Airport,” “No MOU, no Airport,” “Land grabbers should leave Umueri out,” and “No release of the corresponding size of encroached Parcels B in Parcel A, no Airport.”
They also vowed to occupy the place for the next one month, until the state government remedied the situation.
Speaking to newsmen, the chairman of the community, Uchenna Ndumanya, described the development as unfortunate.
He said, “We are the people of Ifite Umueri. We are the people that donated the airport land to the Anambra State Government during Dr. Chris Ngige’s administration, 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 on our individual land.
“They are now encroaching on about 1,901 hectares, about three times of what we gave them. We had our first protest on the matter in 2019. And since then, nothing has been done.
“We’ve petitioned the Commissioner of Police and the Department of State Services, but nothing has happened. We’ve gone to the governor’s office and the SSG’s office. Day-by-day, they are building on the land with impunity and sharing the land among themselves. And the particular place we gave them, they left it and nothing has been done there.
“We are here to let the world hear our cry, because all our efforts have been scuttled. The governor is from Aguleri; the Commissioner for Works is from Aguleri; the Chief of Staff is from Aguleri, virtually every top government official is from Aguleri. “When you are explaining those things to them, it looks like speaking to deaf ears, because they’re our age long rivals.
“They want to turn us to refugees in our community; but we can’t be turned to Internally Displaced Persons on our own land because of an airport.”