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Anambra community alleges encroachment, goes traditional to stop airport project

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Side view of Anambra International Cargo Airport terminal (Inset:Anambra residents witnessed arrival of the maiden flight to the airport)


No fewer than 300 hundred indigenes of Ifite Umueri community in Anambra East Local Council of Anambra State have protested against the alleged destruction of their farmlands by agents of government.

To show seriousness, they have deployed charms to ward off “land grabbers in the name of airport project expansion.” During a visit to the site of the proposed Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport at Umueri, a community leader, Chief Chibuzo Ekwenye, described the deployment of “about 30 security personnel, including Army, police and DSS officers for the forceful entry and destruction of farmlands as barbaric and inhuman.”

Ekwenye, who was President of Umueri National Youth Assembly, claimed that the “illegal encroachment was a deliberate act to evict the owners from their ancestral land and block their only means of livelihood.”

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He pointed out that the landowners originally donated some 729.606 hectares for the project, deploring the “imaginary unilateral expansion and parcellation of the land into Parcel A for the 729.606 hectares and parcels B, C and D, totalling about 1900 hectares bigger than Heathrow Airport site of 1200 hectares.”

According to him, the state government “buckled under pressure and claimed to have released about 288 hectares without evidence and confirmation by the donors.”

Earlier, Chairman of Umuopu, Umuinu and Enuagu kindred of Ifite Umueri, Uchenna Ndumanya, lamented that the alleged encroachment amounted to forceful eviction of the women from their only means of livelihood and displacement of the youths from their future inheritance.

He submitted that some of the farmers were indigent widows and orphans that took loans from banks to invest in farming. Ndumanya observed that the fresh opposition was to put the world on notice about their plight.

“We beg Governor Willie Obiano to hear our cry. We are not against the building of the airport on our soil, but we cannot be forced out of land because of our magnanimity.”

The women, mostly widows, interviewed, threatened to march naked to the palace of their monarch, Igwe Ben Emeka, if their property is not freed by government.

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