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Ihitte Okwe community protests against RUGA

By Chidi Nkwopara OWERRI

It is no longer news that Ndigbo and their state governments have repeatedly and vehemently, rejected the establishment of RUGA Settlement in any part of Igboland.

It is also on record that the South East Governors recently issued a joint statement, distancing their states from the planned RUGA Settlement and whatever other name it may be called.

This remained the situation, especially in Imo State, until last week when an alleged RUGA Settlement was spotted at Ihitte Okwe autonomous community in Ngor Okpala local council area of the state.

RUGA
Herdsmen along with their cows wait for buyers at Kara Cattle Market in Lagos, Nigeria, on April 10, 2019. – Kara cattle market in Agege, Lagos is one of the largest of West Africa receiving thousands of cows weekly due to the massive consumption of meat in Lagos area. (Photo / AFP)

Armed with a barrage of credible information reaching him, the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Barnabas Obirieze, promptly convened a meeting in his palace, on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.

The unfolding issue, especially the impending implications of the existence of such an establishment in their community was top on the agenda.

Before the meeting rose, far reaching resolutions were reached, including a peaceful protest to the local council headquarters, Umuneke and handing over of a formal complaint to Governor Emeka Ihedioha, through the Interim Management Committee chairman.

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Part of the letter captioned “RUGA in Ihitte Okwe Autonomous Community”, read: “We write to notify you that we have discovered a Cattle Ranch Settlement, stationed at Umuneke, Ihitte Okwe autonomous community, Ngor Okpala. This settlement situates along Aba-Owerri Road, at Ihitte Okwe Junction.

“The settlement is owned by one Mr. Chinonso Anuforo, aka Lawman (and operates) under the business name of Away Lawman Global Resources Limited.”

The community resolved that being law-abiding citizens of Imo State, they aligned themselves with the South East Governors and Ndigbo in general that this type of Cattle Ranch should not exist in their community.

They also informed the governor that “the Memorandum of Association and Certificate of Incorporation, dated December 28, 2017, issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission, does not permit Away Lawman Global Resources Limited, to establish cow ranching business anywhere in Nigeria.”

The aggrieved citizens said that they “see this business as a ploy by the operator(s) to indirectly bring herdsmen into our community who will eventually establish a colony in our community”.

They were further incensed that “their one week illegal operation, has already brought devastation to our farmland and untold hardship to our people.”

Following the above submissions, Ihitte Okwe people rejected this RUGA project and urged the government to, “without any delay, ensure that this evil is removed from our community, failing which, we shall take all necessary measures we deem fit to eject the cattle ranch and its operators from our community”.

SouthEast Voice recalls that no fewer than 123 people attended the meeting while the royal father, Eze Obirieze and 11 other prominent citizens of the community signed the letter.

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