In Oguta South region of Imo State,made up of Agwa, Ejemekwuru, Akabor, Umuofor and Izombe have rejected the establishment of a proposed ultra-modern agricultural project, estimated at 120 million US dollars, in their areas by the Federal Government.
The oil producing communities, through their spokespersons, denounced the project as a Trojan horse and a veiled plot to appropriate their rich agric-ancestral land, which they said was their only means of livelihood.
They said the project should be taken to another community.
Chanting solidarity songs and carrying fresh palm fronds and placards with inscriptions such as: “Our land is for crop farming and residential purpose”, “Agwa people say no to RUGA livestock farming”, Ohaom people say no to their offer, we don’t need it”, No land for agricultural development”, “Akabor people say no to RUGA livestock farming or cattle rearing and “No vacant land for agro and allied farm project”, the aggrieved indigenes, including women, rejected pleadings by the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, who later addressed them at the Community Primary School field, Ejemekwuru.
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Njoku, who represented Governor Hope Uzodimma, attributed the opposition trailing the proposed project to the activities “of those who do not mean well for the people.”
He said: “This project is a Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ), which was keenly competed for by the 36 states of the federation, with Imo as one of the states selected.”
Njoku said the project being executed by the Federal Government, in collaboration with the African Development Bank, upon completion would inter-alia produce poultry, pig, maize, soya beans and animal feeds.
This, he said, would integrate the multi-billion Naira gas project and the Adapalm Nig. Ltd already in existence.
The deputy governor said that the project had nothing to do with the controversial Rural Grazing Area (RUGA), adding that anybody linking it with the RUGA was only being mischievous.
“It is meant to bring efficiency, wealth and job creation and modernity and it is in the interest of Imo State and not in the interest of those who do not mean well for you. Upon completion, you will rise up and thank Governor Uzodimma for a job well done,” he said.
Insisting that the project would go on despite the rejection, he said in the Land Use Act, the government had absolute right to site projects on any land for the interest of the people.
He promised that the government would compensate the original land owners. “There is a process of acquiring land. That process we shall follow to compensate the owners of the land,” the deputy governor said.
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