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The Enugu State government yesterday took a major step towards protecting and exploiting the Iron smelting site discovered at Otobo Ugwudinoke, Lejja, Nsukka Local Government Area of the state.

Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Briefing newsmen after a presentation made to the State Executive Council by an Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Dr. Pamela Eze-Uzomaka, the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Rita Mbah disclosed that the Lejja Iron smelting site was “one of the oldest in the world, which dates back to about 2000 BC”.

Hon. Mbah stated the Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi administration was passionate, committed and delighted at the revelation made by Dr. Eze-Uzomaka, who she said has been carrying out research on the site.

The Culture and Tourism Commissioner announced that the council had in a quick response to the presentation, set up a 3-man committee that would visit the site and devise the best means of protecting it “as a world heritage centre”.

She added that the state government intended to construct the road leading to the site to be able to exploit its natural contents as “a tourism site and money spinning venture”, stressing that a lot of other benefits were accruable from it.

Also speaking, the Associate Professor told newsmen that she was at the EXCO meeting with her team to brief the state government on the outcome of their findings, saying that they “were able to get over 40 nationals from about 18 countries of the world to come and help us excavate Lejja site”.

Dr. Eze-Uzomaka disclosed that one of their findings was “radio carbonates”, which according to her, places the Lejja as one of the oldest Iron smelting sites in the world.

“This discovery means that Enugu State has one of the oldest iron smelting sites in the world and this site is being visited by so many countries of the world. I have travelled to some parts of the world, giving lectures about these sites and yet our people do not know about what they have.

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