Raphael Ede, Enugu
The Ngwuagu community in Abor, Udi Council Area of Enugu State, has raised fears of mass suicide among its citizens should the Enugu State Government carry out its intentions to acquire their only ancestral land.
The community stated this in a passionate letter they sent to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and signed by Secretary of the Town Union, Chief Attanatius Nnadi, dated 27th of July, 2018.
It said that the acquisition of the land known as Uzami Ngwuagu would amount to the government signing the death warrants of their citizens.
The community said it learnt of government’s intention for the said land from the Commissioner for Lands, Mr. Solomon Onah, during a meeting he summoned the town union executives on February 2, 2018.
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However, the commissioner, refused to disclose what the state government intended to do with the land instead he said that government could acquire land anywhere for any reason that pleased it.
While the representatives of the community explained to him that the land was the only land they inherited from their forefathers and have been living in and farming there since time immemorial.
The land had been parcelated and shared to families in the community and that over 200 buildings have already been erected on the land.
According to the community, the commissioner, after listening to their explanations, promised to send them a formal acquisition notice after which he would take them to the governor and give them opportunity to make their plea for suspension of the intended acquisition.
The community also said they never heard anything again from the commissioner only to wake up “a few days ago to see signposts on the said land declaring that government had acquired the land and warning us not to trespass”.
The community said that action, has completely unsettled their community “where an atmosphere of palapable anxiety and tension currently prevails” as the indigenes fear that bulldozers might be moved into the land anytime to destroy their properties.
The letter partly reads: “Your Excellency, much as we understand that acquisition of land by government is often for purposes of development, we passionately plead that given the circumstances we have outlined above, it would be exceptionally harsh and unbearable for our people to lose the only land they have and which has been shared among them.
“Your Excellency, we are appealing to your conscience as our father, great leader, to reverse the decision to acquire the said land in the interest of social justice, peace, equity and fairness.
“The acquisition of the land would amount to signing the death warrants of our people as our lives would certainly become worthless.
“Given the prevailing mood in our community over this development, we fear that many of our people may consider taking their own lives should government go ahead to acquire the land,” the community said.