The tension raised by the plot of both the Federal and the Imo State governments to forcefully appropriate an expanse of land in Nwangele local government area of Imo state is far from dying down.
This is as an Imo State Diasporan community, Isu Na Eliligbarogu, USA, has warned all those involved in the forceful and clandestine takeover of their ancestral land.
The expanse of land, loosely known as Ikpa Ogbajarajara, is owned by some four communities spread across, Dim-Na-Nume, Umuozu, Abba and even Owerre Nkwoji all in Nwangele and Nkwere local government areas of the state.
The Diaspora association, a collective of indigenes of the affected area resident in the United States of America, said it would do everything within its powers to ensure that no portion of the land in question is taken away.
According to the President of the group, Chief Eze Nwoke, Ogbajarajara is ancestral land belonging to four communities in Nwangele LGA of Imo State, which has, curiously attracted many interests over the years, including a group of people who usurped the state government.
Nwoke raised the alarm over the forceful acquisition of the land by the federal government to establish a Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement in the clan. He said even if the allegation of acquiring the said land for RUGA is denied by agents of government, the fact remains that the people have no intention of ceding an inch of the said land, as the lives and livelihoods of the people of the communities are directly tied to the Ogbajarajara land.
Nwoke said he strongly believes President Mohammadu Buhari’s regime equally understands what the land represents for the community.
“That land is the only inheritance we have as a community, our people don’t have land, the only available land we have is under invasion from the federal government that is charged with its protection. That land is the only source of water we have in the community, if it is used for RUGA we would have no water again,” he stated.
Supporting Nwoke, Nze Frank Odukwu, the association’s Vice President, revealed that even as the owners of the land were yet to be consulted, and their consent (or otherwise) sought, the federal government had gone ahead to award three contracts for the clearing of the land.
He said the association is alarmed by the ominous silence of the state governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, adding that it shows he has used their community as a bargain for his election.
“From our findings, it was revealed that three contracts had already been awarded by the federal government for the clearing and preparation of the land for the so-called agricultural purposes
“We call on Gov. Uzodimma not to provoke them or tamper with their land, saying they are not ready to relinquish the land for whatever purpose,” he stated.
Meanwhile, a state jointly issued by the trio of Nwoke, Odukwu and Nze Dom Apala Njoku, National Public Relation Officer, advised that the government should consider all before embarking on any project.
“The level of insecurity is high in the country and embarking on such project will only increase the fear of the people and the notion that the north have plans to overrun the South east before the end of Buhari’s tenure.
Another reason the government needs to consider is that the land itself has been recently hijacked by the same agents the government is dealing with and one of the agents was until a few days ago, in prison custody, for another land matter. This man is a known land grabber. It pains me that the government didn’t do its homework, or they intentionally neglected the records,” the statement concluded.
Only two weeks ago, indigenes of the communities had held peaceful protests against the planned acquisition, which they said is still being pushed despite a subsisting court order to the contrary.
The case of this controversial acquisition has also been tabled before the National Assembly by the member representing the constituency, Hon. Ozuruigbo.