April 14, 2017

10 injured, 5 arrested as Oba Airport land dispute deepens

10 injured, 5 arrested as Oba Airport land dispute deepens

Chief Willie Obiano

By Nwabueze Okonkwo

ONITSHA —No fewer than 10 persons sustained various degrees of injury, while about five others were arrested by the police in what appeared to be renewed clash over the ownership of a large expanse of land where the abandoned airport project at Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State is situated.

Government of the defunct Eastern Region had acquired the land from various owners in 1963, under over-riding public interest for the airport project but along the line, former Governor Peter Obi’s administration relocated the project to Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area, thus abandoning the land as an uncompleted airport, which consequently gave rise to the land owners to attempt to reclaim it.

It was gathered that in a bid by the various villages to reclaim the land, clashes of interest arose to the extent that some villagers accused each other of not having any piece of land at the abandoned airport site.

At press time, some of those arrested by the police had been granted bail, while those who sustained injuries were still receiving attention in various hospitals.

Reacting to the development, President-General, Aborji Akanano Union, one of the villages in Oba, Nze Dozie Nweke, said the land actually belonged to Umuogali, Okpuno-Aborji, Ogbenwe, Isu, Abime, Urueze and Ezele-Ngo families and kindreds in Oba community.

Nweke regretted that out of selfish interest, some people instigated the crisis among the land owners as they resorted to petitions and counter-petitions against themselves

According to him, last Thursday’s crisis triggered off when a prominent man from the area allegedly hired caterpillars and entered the land under the pretext that he was brokering peace among the land owners.

He noted that latest crisis sparked off between Umuogali and Aborji when their youths confronted themselves with dangerous weapons, which resulted in several injuries and police arrests.

He, therefore, called for a truce, adding that all the families, kindreds and village heads in Oba should come together at a roundtable and iron out the matter.

Nweke, who was a one-time Vice President of Oba Town Union, as well as Oba youth leader, also advised the youths in the area not to allow themselves to be used by selfish individuals to kill themselves.