ByÂ Vincent Ujumadu
AWKAâ€”THE people of Ihiala in Anambra State are spoiling for a war with the state Governor, Mr. Peter Obi and the former member representing Ihiala federal constituency, Chief Chuma Nzeribe over the revocation of Rights of Occupancy of their ancestral land for an Independent Power Plant project.
The community is alleging that Nzeribe connived with the Governor to dispossess them of their heritage. The controversial choice land is situated along the Ihialaâ€“ Orlu Road and measures about 11.658 hectares.
Governor Obi had in a letter dated October 29, 2009 given notice of the revocation and directed those who have legitimate interest and claims in the said land to submit to the Nnewi Zonal land office, a statement of interest and evidence of right to the land within six weeks.
The Governorâ€™s notice read, â€œI, Mr. Peter Obi, the Executive Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria in exercise of the powers vested in me under Section 28 of the Land Use Act, 1978 and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, hereby revoke the Rights of Occupancy in and over the aforesaid parcel of land for overriding public interest in general and particularly for the establishments of the proposed polyester fibre/carpet factory, injection of sub â€“ section sites for National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) and other state governmental projects in Ihiala.
But in a protest letter by Professor Vincent Chikwendu and Ogbuehi Cajetan Igboamaeze,Â made available to newsmen at the weekend, the people of Ihiala faulted the Governorâ€™s action, stressing that the land in question is an ancestral home of Umuduru Eziani of Umuduru Ngum in Ihiala clan.
According toÂ him “the community,Â Umuduru Eziani donated major part of the their land for the establishment of the Central Health Centre, the Veterinary Office, the Ihiala Micro Finance Bank, the Timber shed and part of the popular Nkwogbe market,” adding that the remaining 4.5 hectares is what they are left with for the use of their future generations.
They accused Nzeribe of trying to confiscate community land using Governor Obi as a tool, adding that there is no project like polyester / fibre factory in the present or past budget estimate of Anambra State for Ihiala, while the NIPP is a Federal Government project being handled by a private company, which sources for land to site its project.
The people said that it was obvious that Governor Obi was not properly briefed before taking the action, noting that the owners of the land have been living in the area since 1500AD.
â€œTo rob a community of its land just because they are unfortunate to live in the commercial centre of Ihiala where a plot of land sells for about N10 million is evil and deserves to be condemned by good spirited people of this country.
The Governor should know that just as he reserves the power to revoke rights of occupancy of people at will and at the slightest request of politicians, the people also deserve the right to be treated with respect and dignity,â€ the community said.