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Akwete Youths protest unjust treatment from Rubber Research Institute

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Akwete Youths in Ukwa East Local Government Area of Abia on Wednesday protested the use of their lands by Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria Sub-Station, Akwete without employing their people.

The youths led by Chinagorom Ekeke carried placards with inscriptions such as “We want implementation of the old MOU”, “Rubber Research Institute, enough of this wickedness”, “Akwete Youths want to see RRIN Executive Director”.

He said the institute established in Akwete in 1963 had refused to give employment preference to youths in the area while employing staff from other states.

Ekeke said that Akwete people had endured the injustice from 1963 to 2013 when Akwete Elders Council began to write to the institute’s management to dialogue with them but they failed to show up.

“We are here today to tell them how aggrieved we are about their unjust treatment of Akwete sons and daughters since 1963 they have been working on our land.

“We are locking them out and unless the management comes to dialogue with us, on or before Monday, the gate and offices will remain locked,” he said.

Mr Chidiebere Ogbo, the institute’s Administrative Officer, while addressing the youth thanked them for the peaceful protest against the perceived institute’s attitude towards them.

He said that citizens in a democracy had the right to air their grievances stressing that they could only get what they wanted if they pursue it peacefully.

Ogbo said the institute had received and replied the letters of the Akwete elders on some occasions but noted that the protests by the youth showed they were not satisfied with the institute’s efforts.

He promised that the Executive Director and Board of Directors of the institute would hear of their visit to the institute.

Earlier, Chief Okere Eruba, and Chief Onyema Olujie, members of Akwete Council of Chiefs told reporters that since the institute came to Akwete, they had refused to show the limits of the lands they occupied with survey plan.

They alleged that the institute leased the expanse of lands they acquired from the community to farmers.

They asked the institute to review the annual customary rights and royalties payable to Akwete community to ensure peace.

They also asked the institute to start giving jobs to their youths or quit to enable them use their lands for farming which would yield better results for them.

Edited by: Maureen Atuonwu

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