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Proposed Enyimba Economic City: Abia community insists on due process for land acquisition

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The Akwete community in Ukwa East Local Government Area of Abia has called on Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu to ensure that due process was followed in acquiring the community land for the proposed Enyimba Economic City.

The spokesman for the community, Chief Onyema Olujie, made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Akwuete, the council headquarters on Thursday.

Olujie, a former Chairman of Akwete Joint Council of Chiefs, said that the state government had yet to properly engage the community in any discussion that could culminate in the acquisition of their land for the project.

He was speaking against the backdrop of the alleged claim by the former Special Adviser to the Governor on Job Creation, Mr Chinenye Nwogu, at a forum in Aba that government had completed the payment of compensation to the land owners.

He described such claims by Nwogu and other top government functionaries as false.

Olujie said: “We heard claims about the state government paying compensation to communities that own land mapped out for the Enyimba Economic City.

“For us, it’s a very sensitive issue because our people here may believe it’s true. You should help us tell the story as it is.

“The truth is that the communities have not received anything from the government. In fact, we have not got to that stage.

“We are still in the process of engagement because this project has its own progress sequence but at this stage, they have not even engaged the communities here.

“We have 33 coordinators for the 33 communities that are involved in the project and out of the entire 33 communities only 13 had been visited.

“Eleven of the 13 agreed with the coordinators on certain terms but most other communities have not been told what the terms are.”

Olujie said that the host communities were not part of the process of the said government acquisition, survey and issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy on their land.

He admitted that government had the right to acquire land in any part of the state but insisted that it must in all good conscience do so in agreement with owners on mutual terms.

Chief Okere Eruba, a member of the council, said that government must incorporate their people in the arrangement before it would be successful.

He said that the Akwete people had not rejected the project but would want to know the direction the project was heading for.

They warned that they would not want a failed project or haphazard arrangement.

Chief Nkemdirim Ogwo, Chairman, Community Development Committee, Akwete, said they would not want the community youths to get restive and take untoward action that could disrupt the project hence their insistence that due process must be followed.

According to him, government must discuss terms of land acquisition with them and thereafter sign a memorandum of understanding with them to take care of their interest and ensure a hitch-free project execution.

Other Council members present at the meeting included the council Chairman, Chief Gabriel Achuta, Chief Bernard Akpara, Chief Rawlings Nwakamma, and Chief Kamalu Chinonyerem.

When contacted on the issue, the Commissioner for Information, Mr John Okeiyi, said that government had yet to receive their letter and would respond at the appropriate time.

IEI/USO

(Edited by Sam Oditah)

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