Community protests against bid to convert school land to housing project
The residents, who took to the streets, chanted anti-government slogans, accusing the state government of “forcefully converting” the land for other purposes contrary to the agreement it entered into with the people.
Several years ago, the community gave the land to the state government when it (government) indicated interest to build a school there, and to
return undeveloped portions of it to the community for agricultural purposes.
Although the school built in the 1970s has had its undeveloped portions used for farming by the community, the state government recently mobilised bulldozers to clear the land.
In the process, various farmlands with crops and economic trees worth millions of naira were destroyed by the three bulldozers, which pulled down the perimeter fence to access the property.
Irked by the development, the community, mobilised to the area and chased away the bulldozers, and accused the state government of invading the area without their consent.
Led by their President General, Ikechukwu Anike, the placard bearing residents deplored the activities of the government, insisting that they would not leave the area until further development of the land was stopped.
Anike said: “We are here to show our anger concerning the diversion of purpose. This place was given to the government by our community for the purpose of building a school. We are not against using the land for that purpose, but the law requires that at any point in time that that purpose is changed, the land will revert back to us. It is our right and nobody consulted us and we suddenly saw caterpillars everywhere. We want to stop this work.
They invaded here to destroy our farmlands and crops. What they have destroyed is more than one kilometer of farmlands. We know quite well that it is definitely not a school they are building here, and as long as it is not a school, we are opposed to that…”
Chairman of the Post-Primary School Management Board (PPSMB), Nestor Ezema, declined to comment on the issue saying he needs to hear first from the managing director of state housing corporation.