(Peter Okolie, Anambra)
The Umueri community in Anambra East Local Government Area has asked the Anambra Government to relinquish to it some part of the vast land it donated to the government for the construction of a cargo airport for farming activities.
The traditional ruler of Umueri, Igwe Ben Emeka, while speaking newsmen at his palace in Umueri on Tuesday.
He said the appeal was to enable the community to sustain its agricultural capacity as the project had yet to fully commence since conception.
“The community’s demand follows a peaceful protest by youths who claim that the state government is attempting to take over their land without any benefits to them,” he said.
Emeka explained that the state government had acquired the land for the airport in parcels A, B, C and D, totalling about 1,901 hectares of land under the administration of Mr Peter Obi as governor.
The monarch said Obiano’s administration only succeeded in paying compensation for Parcels A and B which was about 760 hectares as of date but started the project on parcels C and D without compensation.
“We allowed the project to continue because we are excited about it and it will benefit our community.
“However, some people started lamenting that the volume of land taken by the government was too much and that they needed the other sections for farming since they are predominantly farmers,” he said.
According to him, since the land taken by government is more than enough for the project, the compensation for the remaining parcels should not be paid but the land should be returned to the community.
“Agreed that our people are predominantly farmers, we need to have a place to farm and a place to build houses in the future.
“This is what I have explained to the state government in series of letters through the community attorney requesting that government should not pay for the remaining parcels A and B, but to return it since parcels C and D are enough for the airport project,” he said.
He urged his people, mostly the Umuinu, Enuagu and Umuokpu clans, all in Ivite-Umueri to exercise restraint and allow the community leadership to dialogue with government so as to resolve the issue.
The monarch also denied claims by the youth that Gov. Obiano was using the land to fight an old war between Aguleri and Umueri.
“Obiano is a detribalised human being. I don’t think he will plan such and even if it is on his agenda, we cannot act on mere suspicion.
“Aguleri and Umueri are brothers and cannot take any action that will bring about war again,” he said.