Chief Willie Obiano
The Anambra Government has denied allegations that it is selling land it acquired to build an airport in Oba in Idemili South Local Government Area.
The Commissioner for Lands, Chief Okey Moka , made the denial in an interview in Awka on Thursday .
Moka said activities in some portion of the land, including the erection of residential buildings, were within the terms the land was acquired.
Some members of the community had petitioned Gov. Willie Obiano asking him to intervene on the alleged sale of the land by land grabbers in connivance with agents of government.
The people alleged that 30 hectares of the land was allocated to some persons who were selling plots for the erection of private buildings.
The community people asked that the land should be returned to them since the airport project for which it was taken was no longer feasible.
The commissioner said the land remained the property of Anambra State Government and that there was nothing illegal about the construction of residential buildings in the area.
He said that 30 hectares was allocated to traders of Emodi Shoe Sellers Association by the immediate past administration for establishing a residential estate and not for industrial purposes as the petitioners claimed.
“If somebody tells you that government is selling the airport land, it is not true; government does not sell land but allocates land.
“The issue of the Shoe Sellers Association which they are leaning upon to cause this trouble was before the exit of the last administration.
Government allocated 30 hectares of land to the association to build their residential houses,
“To put the record straight, the entire airport land is 530 hectares and out of it, the last administration allocated 30 hectares.
‘’Gov. Willie Obiano administration decided as an APGA government to continue the process and did not cancel the agreement
“If government acquires land for overriding public interest, the land belongs to the government.
“Under the purpose-clause of the land, it was initially acquired for airport. When the project fails, government has the right to change the purpose.
“After all, when the agreement with the Shoe Sellers for 30 hectares was reached the community was not invited because they have no locus, so what the association decides to do with the land does not concern the people.
“Again, there is no record here that says that the association is selling the land or that they will be paying compensation to the community,” he said.
The commissioner said compensation had been worked out by government but had not been effected because of disagreement over who were the true representatives of the community.
“We have not even started any new allocation on that land, before we can do that, we have to allocate some percentage of it to the community which the governor has approved.
“Because of the misunderstanding between the two groups and committees from the community who are laying claim to be true representatives of the people the allocation of that compensatory land has been pending,” he said.
Moka said the remaining 500 hectares was being encroached upon and warned would-be buyers to stay off as the airport land had not been transferred back to the community.
“We have heard stories of other people going in there to build, claiming that some people in the community sold it to them.
“Some people are even saying that government has transferred the land back to the community, that is a lie.
‘’Anybody saying that the land should go back to the community should argue from the point of law.
“I have had to issue statement telling people not to buy or build anything there, nobody has right to sell because they can’t give what they don’t have.
“Government is at liberty to do what it wishes with the land but because of equity we are liaising with the monarch and community leaders and that is why we are talking about compensatory plots.” he said.
The commissioner said the soldiers patrolling the site were there to forestall possible breakdown of law.
“Some youth can cash in on this and cause confusion and we will not allow it,” he said.