Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Trouble is presently brewing between the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) and it’s host communities over alleged encroachment of land by the school.
Stakeholders of the communities are talking tough, insisting they would surely get back some of their land encroached upon by FUTO, while the institution had maintained that they are not contented with the 4500 hectares it is presently occupying, it rather pleaded that more lands are needed for expansion of the school.
Vice-Chancellor of FUTO, Professor Francis Eze who earlier addressed newsmen in his office in Owerri noted that the school is in dare need of a Teaching Hospital and recreation park but the host communities he said is frustrating it’s realisation.
The VC also alleged that the host communities have chased so many investors who want to partner with the school with their actions.
“FUTO has increased the economy of the communities, we need more lands for expansion, size of FUTO is presently 4,500 hectares , some universities are more than that, it is for their own benefit, they ought to have a teaching hospital and parks, all these needs land which should be within the institution” Eze said.
He further stated “anything coming will trickle to the communities, they have chased some of our investors away, our school fence has been pulled down severally, most of the school properties has been vandalised by hoodlums who has access to the school premises”
But the host communities have fired back through their attorney, Sam Anokam and some community leaders who alleged FUTO is yet to pay a dime for using their land.
Anokam also noted that there was no documentation when the land was acquired.
He explained that when the school moved into their land, they promised to pay compensation of 1300 hectares of an action area but regretted that they reneged.
According to Anokam “what is the concern of FUTO in dredging our river and the money going to a private pocket, what FUTO is doing calls for a revolution, but we want peace, that is why we have to exhaust peace options”
Another elder from the community, McHughes Anukwuru accused the VC of not having a cordial relationship with the host communities.
He informed that a committee has been set up by the federal government through the ministry of works to settle their differences just as he expressed confidence that the committee which is almost rounding off will soon cede parts of their land back to them.
Anukwuru said ” we thought the present VC should have good cordial relationship with us, but he is not, we are expecting soon the federal government to cede part of our land, we demanded N5. 4 billion as compensation but they could not pay, what they paid then is what we are saying is not commiserate to what is obtained now”.