THE Umueri community of Anambra State has asked the state government to pay compensation and fulfill other conditions, which it duly agreed with Ivite Umueri, before they will be ready to discuss further land acquisition for the Airport City Project.
The traditional ruler of the community, His Royal Majesty Igwe Ben Emeka Ilouno, Okebo II of Umueri, put the government on alert in his palace, when members of the Anambra State Land Acquisition Committee, led by their chairman, former Health Minister, Dr. Tim Menakaya, Tuesday, visited him at Udabor Umueri.
While he expressed the gratitude of Umueri people to the governor for choosing Umueri out of three communities for the siting of the project, the Igwe said that it is worrisome that out of the three-fold compensation plan for the airport project, only one and a half have been executed.
Menakaya however, assured the Umueri community that government was willing to pay adequate compensation for the land, while he pointed out that adjourning communities like Nteje and Nsugbe will also have to part with some land so that necessary expansion of the project site will be effected.
The Igwe wondered why the surveyor has continued to withhold the outstanding part of the compensation and retained the money in his personal account instead of paying it to Ivite Umueri who are the land owners.
He added that the reasons given by the surveyor were unacceptable, remarking that there is no crisis of leadership in Umueri as he claimed, because “I am the only traditional ruler of Umueri.”
He therefore urged the committee to prevail on the surveyor to urgently complete the transactions, since he been furnished with the banking details of Ivite Umueri to facilitate the complete payment of the compensation
His Royal Majesty promised that as soon as the government completed the compensation plan, Ivite Umueri will be willing to discuss the new idea of further land acquisition for the Airport City Project.
On the bid of the government to acquire more land for the airport project, the Igwe appealed that since Umueri has clearly marked boundaries with her neighbours like Nteje at Oyi Bridge and Nsugbe at Okpinka, the community would like to be involved in negotiations with these neighbouring communities so that these historical boundaries will be respected.
Menakaya recalled that the original concept was to construct a cargo airport, but noted that the plan was changed to an airport city project, the first of its type in the country.
According to him, this airport city project will have two runways and have all the attributes of a city; it will be busy and there will be a collaboration between it and a refinery, which will be providing aviation fuel.
Sitting on a five-kilometer land area, Menakaya said that this airport city will transform Umueri, which is why there is need to take more land from Ivite Umueri.
The former Minister of Health assured that government will not renege on the compensation plan.
A legal practitioner, Sam Umeadi reiterated the need for the State Government to produce the map of the land so far given to them by Umueri. He reminded them of the Igwe Okebo’s earlier remark that proper demarcation of the land so far acquired by State Government should be made both on paper and on the ground with Umueri people vetting such demarcation. He also repeated the warning made by the Igwe that the committee should be careful not to deal with self-appointed agents or representatives who are acting on their own and are not endorsed by the Umueri General Assembly and the traditional ruler.
Members of State Committee on Land Acquisition include Dr. Tim Menakaya (Chairman), Igwe Emeka Iluno, the traditional ruler of Ifite Dunu, Igwe C.C Umeanibo, the traditional ruler of Azuigbo, Hon. Umeoji (Oba Aguata), Engr. Mike Ogbuekwe, Dr. J.A.P Okolo, Chinasa Ekpunobi, and Ibukum Chinweze