…army’s presence on site is on dual capacity – Rotech
By Chuks Eke
Bonafide owners of Ogbidogbo land located at Obosi community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra state have vowed to confront some soldiers allegedly stationed by the Managing Director of Rotech Energy Services Limited, Chief Austin Oguejiofor who they accused of forcefully grabbing their ancestral land.
They said although they acknowledge the fact that it would be quite suicidal for them as unarmed civilians to confront armed soldiers, death would not scare them from asking the soldiers to vacate their land for them to move in and commence this year’s farming season to produce enough foods to feed themselves and their families.
Leaders of the land owners, Chiefs Ifeanyi Uyamadu, Jerome Umeh, Mrs. Uju Mgbodile and Amadi Bernardine who made the vow yesterday at Obosi Town hall during a peaceful demonstration embarked upon by men, women and youths from the area, said they were surprised that after the state and federal governments dispossessed Obosi community of it’s large expanse of lands in the past for the construction of Onitsha Textile mill, Metallurgical Training Institute, MTI and the latest Second Niger Bridge, Rotech still has the temerity to grab a large expanse of Ogbodogbo land claiming that it was allocated to him by the state government.
Displaying their placards with certain inscriptions as “Gov. Soludo, please rescue us from land grabbers. We won’t tolerate land grabbers in our land. Our ancestors will not be happy if we allow land grabbers to take over our Ogbodogbo land, among others, the demonstrators said that more worrisome is the fact that they heard that Rotech has allegedly started selling some parts of the land to individual developers and corporate organizations.
Pointing at seven marble tombs where their brothers and a sister who were killed and buried n a similar circumstance in the 60s for trying to protect Obosi land from being grabbed illegally, the demonstrators insisted that they were ready to die in hands of the soldiers this time around like their brothers and sisters did if Rotech does not vacate the land for them to commence this year’s farming season ad they do not have any other land to carry out their farming activities.
They mentioned the names of the slain brothers and a sister who were killed in 1960 and buried inside the Obosi town hall premises as martyrs as Emma Ekwuno, Peter Udoh, Peter Aziwe, Esogbunam Nwankwo, Frederick Ebunam Chukwurah Onubogu and Regina Madu.
They therefore pleaded with Governor Chukwuma Soludo to come to their rescue by relocating any power of attorney or certificate of occupancy issued to Rotech so that he would vacate their land with his killer soldiers before they as land owners would embark on their proposed suicide mission.
Reacting to the development, Rotech, through its legal adviser, Barrister Chijioke Nwako explained that the state government it was the state government, under former Governor Willie Obiano that allocated the land to them, via a certificate of occupancy, C-of-O, issued to Rotech in October, 2021 to build a mega market.
Nwako said the C-of-O stated that the land belonged to Ogbaru people but surprisingly, Obosi people appeared to them and started kicking that they were the owners of the land and that they should be paid compensation for occupying the the land.
He further explained that after spending so much resources to clear and sand-fill the swampy land and was about to settle down for the major work, the Obosi land owners kept invading the land and disrupting their operations, which prompted the company to write a petition to the state House of Assembly.
He stated that upon the receipt of the petition, the House of Assembly members summoned both parties and after fruitful deliberations, directed Rotech to pay a compensation of N130 million to the Obosi land owners which the company did and moved on with its project until October last year when Soludo administration directed the company to stop work and it stopped work since then.
On the issue of stationing soldiers in the land to shoot the Obosi land owners if they dare enter the land, as they alleged, Nwako disclosed that the presence of the soldiers in the site is on a dual capacity.
“One is that the company entered into an agreement with the Army Engineering Corps (the Sappers) to do an engineering work in the mega market project and then secondly to protect the company workers from incessant attacks by unknown gunmen.
He recalled that on the morning of the same day Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s convoy was attacked in Enugwu-Ukwu by unknown gunmen, some unknown gunmen numbering about five also invaded the Obosi site and attacked the company workers, even though they could not go scot free as one of the was neutralized, while four others were arrested.
He accused the land owners of selling some portions of the land at the moment.