Host communities of the Federal University of Technology Owerri, FUTO, have alleged that the management of the institution has been economical with the true story concerning the lingering land issue between them and the school.
The host communities who also said they cannot be intimidated by the management of FUTO, with a threat to relocate the institution out of the area as was recently made by the Permanent Secretary in charge of the Ministry of Education when the school management team visited Abuja recently and wondered why professors of high repute could be withholding the truth.
Reacting to the threat which was published on Vanguard Newspaper last Friday, spokesperson of the host communities and attorney, Barr. Sam Anokam in Owerri, during a press briefing stated that FUTO may not have informed the Permanent Secretary properly on the matter hence his threat that the Ministry of Education could relocate FUTO on the basis that the host communities were encroaching into the lands said to have been acquired by the institution.
The community said; “The threat that they will relocate the University does not threaten us.
There are lies and we know it very much. FUTO does not want to face the fact. We are dealing with professors and they should come out clear on this matter.
FUTO does not have the power to remove the university, it is only the Federal Government that has the power to do so and FUTO did not pay up to 10 per cent of what they should pay.
“When the federal government set up a committee, we sat with the federal authorities at that point, the facts came to the open and FUTO was asked to produce the evidence of the survey which they did including evidence of the payment of compensation, and when it was analyzed, it was discovered they did not pay up to 10 per cent, since 1982 they acquired the land.
“When you don’t have evidence you cannot lay claim to all and begin to hold the landowners as responsible for not allowing you do one thing or the other or begin to look at them as hostile to FUTO’s development.
“We remember when they said let us pay you compensation in two installments. The host communities were paid in two installments, up till today some people were not paid.
“In the first development plan, FUTO met with the host communities of Ihiagwa, Eziobodo, and Umuanunu Obinze, on an area that consists at least 1, 300 hectares to say let us house FUTO, that was the time of Evans Enwerem as governor of Imo state. Again, the government supposedly acquired 4,455 hectares of land for FUTO, neither the state government nor the federal government paid compensation.
The host communities spokesman and attorney further stated that he deemed it necessary to speak so that the public will understand that FUTO is yet to make the necessary compensation to the host communities according to the nations land use act.
They complained that if the host communities are denied the use of their land or compensate them accordingly, it amounts to impoverishment especially with the level of development fast approaching the said areas.
The host communities also accused institution of employing propaganda and have refused to face the facts.