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FUTO, host communities get ‘out of court’ order




Parties involved in the disputed 4,500 hectares of land between the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Imo State and its host communities have been told to settle the case out of court.

While a High Court sitting in Owerri, presided over by Justice Sabinus Ifeanyi Opara, gave the order, the 10 host communities and the state government are threatening to commit any defaulter to prison, in the case of contempt.

The order, contained in suit number 772/2013, issued on September 8, 2016, a copy of which was made available to The Guardian, the court said the matter is between the claimants/applicants -Mr. Emmanuel Onyeubi, Jude Ugwuegbulam, Oliver Ngerem, IK Obiyo, Chiefs Alex MBA, Reginald Amadi and Cosmas Uboh, and Defendants/Respondents-Government of Imo State of Nigeria, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development and the Federal University of  Technology, Owerri (FUTO).

Recall that the host communities-Avu, Obinze, Nekede, Ihiagwa, Eziobodo, Eziokele, Okolochi, Emeabiam, Obibiezena and Ogbeke, had protested the acquisition of what they termed their ancestral lands numbering 4,500 hectares, demanding that 3,000 should be returned to them, while the institution, retains 1,500 hectares.

FUTO had acquired and relocated to the land from the former premises of the Federal Government Girls’ College, Owerri, before it was acquired by the Imo State University, Owerri, off Okigwe Road, Owerri, over two decades.

Briefing The Guardian, a community leader from one of the communities, Chief Sam Anokam and the counsel to the applicants, Lawrence Nwakaeti, advised those encroaching the land before the order to note that they are doing illegal activity, warning that they should abide by the court order.

The duo said the host communities’ position remained that FUTO should only take about 1,500 hectares, while the host communities retain ownership of 3,000 hectares for peace to reign, adding that it was subject to the settlement as granted by the court.

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