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Host community threatens to disrupt activities at Owerri airport


Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri

The host community to the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri, Imo State, has threatened to disrupt activities at the airport, in protest against alleged marginalisation by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

The aggrieved youths alleged breach of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that grants them employment preferences ahead of other Nigerians.

The facility is the first state-government built airport but it was later taken over by the Federal Government and handed over to FAAN to manage.

President of Onyeaghalanwanneya Youth Movement (OYM), Alvan Opara, alleged complicity on the part of the current management of the airport in “the racketeering of host community’s job slots” and demanded that they be probed by the Federal Government.

Opara said: “When the then Imo State government, under the late Chief Sam Mbakwe, came up with the plan of building the Imo Airport in our clan, we willingly and happily gave out our land, which is our heritage for the project, believing that some employment rights and privileges will be accorded us when it becomes operational.

“But it would surprise or even shock Nigerians to know that the successive management of this airport have callously denied and deprived us of these rights. However, as if we have not suffered enough, the current management of the airport, under Mr. Henry Efobi, has become a sort of terrorist militia and reduced us to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in our own land.

Power supply from the airport which the host community enjoys has also been severed.

“As landlords of the airport we are entitled to job opportunities. But this right has been grossly abused and trampled upon, as the current management connived and colluded with merchant politicians and impostors to divert host communities jobs to illegitimate persons.”

The community, according to him, demanded that the Managing Director and the management of FAAN should stop further actions on the allocation of job slots for host communities of the airport.

He said: “We are calling on the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to investigate or probe the activities of the manager of the Imo Airport as it relates to job slots for the airport host community within 21days or face mass protest from the community youths,” he said.

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