… As host community takes over land for proposed teaching hospital
From Chidi Nnadi and George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The authorities of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Imo State have cried out to the Federal Government to rescue it from members of their host communities who have engaged in the grabbing of the university’s land.
The cry followed the recent invasion and on-going sale of portions of the institution’s land by members of the host communities along the Avu/Obinze axis of the Owerri/Port Harcourt Road, including the position mapped out for a teaching hospital.
Briefing newsmen yesterday at the Senate Chamber of the university, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Francis Eze and the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman Governing Council, Dr Godwin Enemuo, lamented that the persistent encroachment on the university’s land by host communities arose as a result of the institution’s inability to erect perimeter fencing of the 4,500 hectares land when it commenced in 1982.
The vice chancellor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to immediately intervene and stop the provocative act of encroachment on their land, which he said, was duly and legally acquired by the government and vested on FUTO as a corporate and indissoluble body.
According to him, “ we are used to the occasional demonstrations by some women and youths sponsored by some elite of the host communities over purported loss of their land to FUTO. During such occasions, authorities of the FUTO had always made them to understand that the land was freely given and legally acquired.”
He, therefore, said the university authorities strongly condemn the activities of land speculators who have invaded a large portion of the land belonging to the university along Avu axis of the Owerri/Port Harcourt road, where they have deployed heavy equipment to annex and parcel out their land.
He appealed to the Federal Government to provide the university with the fund to put up perimeter fencing round the university to stave off constant encroachment by host communities.
When the vice chancellor and pro-chancellor led newsmen to the portion being encroached upon, a young man from the Avu community, Mr Ifeanyi Oparaku was seen and a bulldozer working on the portion of land the university has set aside to build a teaching hospital.
When the university authorities accosted him, he said his kindred in the Avu community has taken back their land as their ancestral home is now filled up and could no longer provide spaces for them to build their houses.
Oparaku told the university authorities that whatever agreement their parents entered in the past with the university has elapsed as they have repossessed their land.
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