The Amagu Progressive Forum has described allegations of land-grabbing against former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, as “spurious, indefensible and unfounded”.
In a statement, Chairman of the group, Fabian Osi Uka, explained that the decision of Amagu community to develop the Ovumte land to an ultra-modern city for the benefit of every indigene is no land-grabbing.
He appealed for restraint in fanning the embers of crises in the community.
He said the communal ownership of the land predates every living person in Amagu, and wondered why some people would fabricate lies against Senator Anyim.
He urged those who feel aggrieved to wait for the resolution of the matter, which is already “before the court, rather than resort to cheap blackmail and unimaginable lies against Senator Anyim.”
He warned that blackmail serves no interest and will not attract any attention to such blackmailers.
He explained that Amagu Development Union, ADU, is the umbrella body of Amagu citizens and the highest decision-making organ of Amagu Ishiagu Community in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
The body has branches in every state of the federation and is responsible for the administration and development of the community, as well as the maintenance of peace and order among the people.
The statement added that Ovumnte is not a village in Amagu Community, but a farm settlement for all the indigenes of Amagu, and had been so designated since time immemorial.
He noted that the rule for anybody or family to farm in the Ovumte land is that such persons would notify ADU to grant permission and each farmer remains a tenant of the community and pays ground rate periodically in the form of “Orji-Ali” through the ADU leadership.
On the facts that nullify the land-grabbing allegation against Anyim, the group pointed out that “in 1998, Senator Anyim had approached the ADU under the leadership of late Mr. Raymond Chukwu, for a parcel of land at Ovumte for residential purposes.
“The Union was concerned about how Anyim could live in the farmland alone considering that Ovumte is about 15 kilometres from the Amagu community residential area.
“In 1999, the union approved Anyim’s request after he assured them that he would construct access road to Ovumte.
“And when he became a Senator, he developed his residence on the parcel of land approved for him after completing all the rites required by the ADU, and thereafter constructed a set of access roads to Ovumte.
“In 2001, ADU set up a Land Use Committee chaired by the late Cosmas Ajah to look into the possibility of parcelling out the Ovumte land into residential plots, since the present Amagu residential area is already congested and many of the young ones are coming up strong with a desire for spaces to build their residence at home.
“On the submission of its report, the Union decided to convened a town hall meeting, otherwise known as Igbo-Uzo.
“This meeting involves all male adults in the community from the age of 18 years and above, and was held at Akanu Village Square to discuss and seek approval of the community on the way forward for Ovumte land.
“The said meeting held in April 2001 and approved the conversion of Ovumte land from farmland to residential land.
“Following this submission of the report of the land committee, the ADU in 2002 convened another meeting to submit the report and seek further approval and it was unanimously agreed that each family in the village must get a piece of land, therefore the land committee should undertake a census of the families in the community.
“By the year 2011, the third town hall meeting was convoked to approve the family enumeration and the meeting held and approved a total of 300 families and 300 plots of 1,000 sq. metres each be set aside for each family to pay a token to access it;
“That if any family has a farmhouse in Ovumte already, the farmhouse should be carved into a 1,000 sq. metre plot for that family,” among other decisions.
Still explaining the falsehood of land-grabbing allegation against Anyim, they said it was erroneous for any indigene to equate long occupation to the right of permanent ownership of the land, forgetting the conditions under which access is granted into the land.
They commended Anyim who they said improved on the fortunes of several youths in the community through the Chioma Pius Anyim Foundation, as well as elderly men and women who are given monthly stipend till date.