Women from Umuleri in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State, yesterday, in their numbers protested half-naked over what they described as grabbing of their land by the state government under the pretext of building an airport in the state.
The women accused the state governor, Willie Obiano, and top government officials of partitioning their land for personal use.
They marched around the airport premises, chanting and making unprintable remarks about the governor. They also made bonfires on the airport road.
The protesters vowed to resist any attempt by the government and its agents to deprive their children of their inheritance.
They carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Enuagu, Umuinu and Umuopu kindred gave 729.606 hectares of land to the Anambra government during the Chris Ngige era, but Obiano’s government forcefully took additional 1,200 hectares.”
Others were: “Anambra government has taken over our lands; where do we farm? Are we to become refugees in our own land?”
The chairman of the community, Uchenna Ndumanya, described the development as unfortunate and wicked.
“We are the people of Ifite Umuleri. We are the people that donated airport land to the Anambra State Government during the Dr Chris Ngige regime, about 14 years ago.
“When we donated the land we gave them about 729.66 hectares but now they have left that particular place we donated to them and just encroached into our individual lands.
“They are now encroaching into about 1,901 hectares, about three times of what we gave to the state government. We had our first protest on the matter in 2019. And since then nothing has been done,” he alleged.
He added that the community had petitioned the Commissioner of Police, the Directorate of State Services, but nothing has happened.
He further alleged that the governor, the SSG and the state’s commissioner for works were all from Aguleri, a long-time rival community to Umuleri, hence they were adamant to the alleged land grab plan.
“They want to turn us refugees in our community; but we can’t be turned in to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in our own land because of the airport,” he said.
“The airport work is going on but not on the land we originally gave the government. They have rather shared the original land we gave them amongst themselves and encroached into our individual land to build the airport.
“The implication is that Aguleri has succeeded in relocating Umuleri from our ancestral and original place,” Ndumanya added.
He said the whole community would be displaced if the project was allowed.
When contacted on telephone, the Commissioner for Works, Marcel Ihejiofor, said he was in an exco meeting and could not speak on the matter.