FUTO, host communities bicker over ownership of land
Leaders of 11 host communities of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO), Imo State have protested against alleged occupation of about 4,050 hectares of land by the university in defiance to the decision by the Imo State government to excise 3,123 hectares to the communities.
Speaking on behalf of the communities, one of the leaders, Chief Sam Anokam, insisted that the institution must excise certain parts of the acquired land, stating that the institution acquired human settlement, in Ihiagwa and Eziobodo, as well as Owerri West Local Council of the state in neglect to the National Universities Commission (NUC), directive on land acquisition in such situation.
He alleged that several petitions have been written to successive heads of the institution on the matter, accusing them of not making themselves available on how to resolve the matter.
But reacting, the Vice chancellor of the institution, Prof. Francis Eze, alleged that the host communities were threatening the existence of the university.
According to him, they have been involved in selling parts of the university’s’ land for the planned construction of a Teaching Hospital to buyers. He warned the public to be careful of such dealings lamenting that despite the employment opportunities and other awards of contracts to the communities, they still protest against them.
Expressing concerns on the position of the V.C, an Estate Surveyor, simply identified as Anokam, said the argument by Prof. Eze, that the Port-Harcourt Road end of the land would require over 1,000 hectares of land to build the planned construction of FUTO Teaching Hospital, was not acceptable to the communities at that location. He insisted that the Owerri North end of the institution could accommodate less than such expanse of land.
He accused authorities of the institution of not living up to their Corporate Social Responsibility of employing indigenes of the communities and encroaching on Umuezeala, Eziobodo, Ebikoro, Amaeze, Uba- Eziobodo lands, among others.
According to him, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has about 800 hectares of land for such hospital, wondering why FUTO required such expanse of land.
Anokam said FUTO had only paid compensation for about 1,000 hectares of land out of over 4,000 it acquired, insisting that the acquisition process was not complete by that reason.
“We call on the Federal Government to set up ta Technical Committee of core professionals to see for themselves and write a report to settle thus matter, if the Federal Government want to settle this matter urgently,” he stated.