The people of Umunyiri, Umudibia Nekede, Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State are ready to sue the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry and First Bank Nigeria PLC over alleged forceful take-over of their land.
Briefing newsmen in Owerri Thursday, the spokes person of Umunyiri kindred, Pastor Emma Mabarah said the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Godwin Merenini will be joined in the suit, as well as consultants to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
He said the intending court case is as a result of a sign post mounted Thursday at the land when the land has been returned to the owners by the state government.
The land in dispute, according to him has over hundred plots, while four plots were given to (ALGON) Association of Local Governments of Nigeria in 2011 which was used in building a health centre in the community.
Pastor Mabarah said the sign post which reads “Government of Imo State of Nigeria, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Cluster Small/Medium Scale Naze/Nekede Owerri, First Bank of Nigeria” has made nonsense of the ALGON project.
The community leader stated that the land in dispute is not part of the industrial cluster, saying that the purported claim that the land has been released for industrial cluster by the monarch of the community is false, baseless, null and void.
Pastor Mabarah who was flanked by other community leaders said investigation shows that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry was not aware of the sign post but that it was the monarch who did it just to achieve his personal interest.
“The land is owned by families in Umunyiri kindred, their land is not part of the allocated lands” he stressed.
The spokes-person accused the monarch of fomenting troubles in the community and wondered why a natural ruler whom he opined should be supporting his people should do otherwise.
In a swift reaction, Eze Merenini said that the land belongs to the state government.
Speaking to Nigeria Newspoint on telephone, the natural ruler said that as a monarch, he supports development, adding that the people of the community have decided to support the government to develop their community.
The monarch said that the land was given to government in 1979 and till date belongs to the government.
Also speaking, Hon. Charles Anozie said that no portion of the land has been released to any particular village or kindred, hence the land is collectively owned by four villages.
Hon. Anozie, Chairman Compensation Negotiation Committee said that the persons have no paper to prove their claim, adding that they are alleging because of their selfish interest.