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Enugu community resists plan to convert school’s land to estate

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Enugu State goveror,  Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

Enugu State goveror, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi

An attempt by the Enugu state government to convert undeveloped portions of land in a secondary school into housing estate was on Friday resisted by residents of Ogui Nike community, who took to the streets in protest against the move.

The residents, who chanted anti-government slogans, accused the state government of ‘forcefully converting” the land into other purposes contrary to the agreement it entered with the people.

It was learnt that the community several years ago freely gave the land housing WTC Secondary School, Ogui to the state government to build a school while some undeveloped portions were returned to the community for their agricultural purposes.

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Although the school built in the seventies has existed since then with various parts of it undeveloped and converted to agricultural purposes by the community, the state government on Friday rolled out three bulldozers to clear the land.Various farmlands with crops and economic trees worth several millions of naira were destroyed by the bulldozers, which pulled down perimeter walls to access the area.

Irked by the development, the community, quickly mobilized to the site and chased away the bulldozers, accusing the state government of invading the area without their consent.Led by their President General, Ikechukwu Anike, the placard bearing residents insisted that they would not leave the area until further development on 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 protesting if they use it for that purpose, but the law requires that at any point in time that they want to change that purpose, 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 the place to destroy our farmlands and crops. They have already destroyed 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. The government has done it somewhere else, the land was acquired for a different purpose and now it is being used for another purpose. We don’t want a repeat of that here and we are telling government to stop and give us back our land”.

Also, the traditional ruler of the community, His Majesty, Tony Ojukwu demanded compensation for the crops destroyed in the farmland.He said the people of Ogui-Nike have continued to be marginalized by successive administrations because of our location.

“We want the
government to exercise empathy on us, give us part of the land so that we can relax. Our people are basically farmers and we thrive on the fruits of our labour from the farms. With all these acquisitions we are nowhere and so we appeal to the government to temper justice with mercy. The government owns every land, but our people are getting extinct and it is not a story for any generation to hear.“Meanwhile, Commissioner for Housing in the state, Ogbonna Asogwa and Chairman of the State Post Primary School Management Board (PPSMB), Nestor Nebodeclined to comment on issues.

Also, C, said he would not talk until “I am briefed by
the Housing Managing Director”.


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