Ebonyi Airport: Families cry out over seizure of farmlands, harassment by gov’t

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An Abakaliki-based family of six have cried out over the forceful seizure of their farmland allegedly on the directive of the Ebonyi state governor, Dave Umahi, without any form of agreement or compensation.

Head of the family, Nwantinti Christopher Eze, had in suit No FHC/A1/CS/82/19 they filed at the Federal High Court Abakaliki against the seizure of their ancestral land, claimed that they have been harassed and received death threats from unknown persons uncomfortable with their decision to resist the forceful seizure.

The family through the statement issued by their counsel, Gerald U. Abonyi, and made available to newsmen in Abuja Monday, argued that the decision by the state government ran contrary to the provision of land use Act which provides for compensation in event of acquisition of land for public interest.

According to the statement: “Our attention has been drawn to the continuous attack and physical assaults been meted out to the applicants (residents) in the suit and members of their family by the agents, assigns and representatives of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state.”

“The reason is only the fact that they filed actions at the Federal High Court Abakaliki, complaining about their imminent extinction and destructions of properties and farmland without any form of agreement or compensation from the state government.

“It is taken as trite that the Land Use Act makes provision for compensation in event of acquisition of land for public interest and our clients have neither taken the law into their hands but filed actions in court seeking justifiable remedy.

“The current situation in Ebonyi State remains critical as the applicants in the afore referred case are been haunted, harassed with the employ and deployment of armed thugs who in one instance threatened to burn down the entire house of Eze,” the statement read.

It further claimed that armed thugs also threaten to kill all the occupants therein., stressing: “We concede that the airport project in Ebonyi State is a laudable project but also one that shall also benefit the living.

“Being a matter now subjudice as in above, we insist that the rule of law must be respected by Ebonyi government and its assigns and agents while we await the just decision of the court,” the residents was quoted as saying in the statement.

When contacted for reaction, the Ebonyi state Commissioner for Information, Uchenna Orji, however faulted the claim by the family arguing they lacked the moral latitude to demand compensation for the land, insisting that the family is making issue out of the land “where there is no case.”

“The people within the place did (gave) it consensually even without the prompting of government through the traditional leadership. The airport when constructed will be one of the best in Nigeria. It is going to be an international airport. It will create jobs,” he said.

“If you read your law very well, (compensation) is for economic trees, or developed property. Where such arises, government does not hesitate in doing that. The remuneration has been made on such property, developed property and economic trees,” he added.

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