FG wades into FUTO land dispute with host communities
In an effort to ensure that the more than 35-year-old land dispute between authorities of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) and its eight autonomous host communities is resolved, the Federal Government has stepped in and urged the parties to sheath their swords.
Already, the first phase of talks held separately between the parties was midwifed by the Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Suleiman Hassan, a Surveyor.
Hassan said he was satisfied with the parties’ maturity and willingness to end the matter.
Monarchs and leaders of the eight host communities were led by the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in Owerri West Local Council, Eze Maurison Eke.
The Attorney Estate Surveyor to host communities and a prominent stakeholder in the area, Chief Sam Anokam, led the communities’ leaders at the residence of a prominent son in Ihiagwa, Emeka Udopkoro
The Minister, who later met with FUTO management at the institution, regretted that the crisis had lingered for years, after the land measuring about 4,580 hectares were acquired by the FUTO management in 1982.
The Federal Government, he said, was worried by the development and was determined to ensure a lasting solution, even as he urged the communities, comprising 30 villages not to escalate the dispute and advised the monarchs to call their subjects to order, so that peace prevailed.
But shortly after the meeting, Anokam and a leader in the community, Chris Ahumibe, a Lawyer, accused the institution of encroaching on their ancestral settlement, outside the original compensated areas.
They demanded boundary demarcation to enable each party know where it owns and urged the Federal Government to do the needful by settling the matter, which they claimed was recently escalated by the alleged acquisition of the water front and its alleged use for commercial purposes by the institution.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Francis Chukwuemeka Eze, accused the host communities of disrupting academic and administrative activities by constantly destroying the institution’s structures.