Imo govt, FUTO host communities, others move to end land dispute
The lingering land dispute between 11 host communities of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO) is coming to an end, following intervention of the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, and the constitution of 33-member mediation committee.
The governor directed the committee to interface with disputing parties to ensure there is amicable resolution of the land dispute.
About 40 years ago (1982), the FUTO host communities (Avu, Obinze, Umuanunu, Umuoma, Dindi -Ihiagwa, Ihiagwa ancient kingdom, Eziobodo, Okolochi, Emeabiam, Obibiezana and Eziokele, all in Owerri West Council of the state, donated more than 4,500 hectares of land to government for the building of permanent site of the institution, which was at the small temporary site at Federal Government College, Owerri.
As the days went by, and due to fast expansion of families of the host communities, they demanded, from FUTO authorities, for excision of 2,106 hectares of land to accommodate their settlement areas.
They also accused the institution of non-utilisation of over 1,000 hectares of land for the construction of its teaching hospital; instead, were allegedly used as “borrow pit and water front,” generating revenue for the institution.
The communities held that the expanse of land in possession of the institution was too large, arguing that they were not in use, whereas, the communities were pushed to limited ancestral land space.
FUTO authorities rejected the request, which has prompted series of protests and disputes in the last five years.
Briefing The Guardian, at the weekend, after a meeting, in Owerri between government mediators, some monarchs, youth leaders and presidents general of the communities, the attorney (a surveyor, not a lawyer) to the host communities, Chief Sam Anokam, expressed joy on the governor’s intervention to settle the dispute, informing that they resolved to harmonise views from various groups to ensure unity of purpose as directed by the governor.
Anokam said the governing council chairman of the FUTO had reached an agreement with the institution on settlement pattern, stressing that the Federal Government team also intervened at various levels.