Fear, anxiety and uneasiness have pervaded some communities in Oguta LGA of Imo State, over alleged plans by the state government to acquire their lands for settlement of Fulani herdsmen.
Their fear was expressed in an open letter the communities wrote to Governor Hope Uzodimma dated September 15, 2021, under the aegis of Concerned Citizens of Ohaoma Communities of Oguta LGA.
The communities included: Agwa, Ejemekwuru, Akabor, Izombe, Awa, Abiaziem, Mgbele, Nkwesi, Nnebukwu, Orsu-Obodo, Ezi-Orsu and Kalabari Beach. It was signed by representatives of the communities both at home and in Diaspora.
They identified the proposed lands slated for government acquisition as their ancestorial farmlands located within Ejemekwuru – Agwa – Akabor – Izombe (aka BENCOV Area).
In the letter, the communities said, “Reliable information at our disposal has revealed that the real motive behind the proposed land acquisition is for settlement of Fulani herdsmen and RUGA colony.”
They drew the governor’s attention to a recent land search and speculative visit on their ancestral lands for a proposed government acquisition for an unverified Agro-Allied Meat processing project, by a government team including the Oguta LGA Interim Management Chairman.
They recalled several ugly encounters including kidnapping, rape, even brutal murders in the past in the hands of marauding armed Fulani herdsmen. “We’re opposed to Fulani herdsmen occupying the lands in our communities because our children and future generations unborn, not to mention the present generation will suffer the consequence.”
They further argued that theirs, being one of the highest population densities in Nigeria today, Ohaoma feeder communities, especially Agwa, Ejemekwuru, Akabor and Izombe have no land to spare for housing any herders project under any guise no matter how genuine the intention may be.
The communities pleaded with the Imo State Government to rescind its decision to avoid a breach of the peace.