TNC correspondent reports that bulldozers had stationed earlier this morning at the farms located after the Ngene Igbokwe stream, Umueri close to the airport project to demolish the farmlands and private-owned agro investments.
It, however, took the prompt intervention of some youths of Umueri community to disperse the bulldozers, even though the area had been surveyed for removal.
The owner of Offor Farms, a piggery located in the affected area, Ikenna Offor said he had started the farm since 2015 even before the airport project was conceived, stating that the stream which borders the airport land and the farms, is the boundary.
Offor expressed worry that the government could come to demolish the property of genuine agro-investors without giving them notice, describing the action as a wrong signal to investors.
“I believe that as a government, you don’t just wake up one day and start constructing things. If facilities such as our farms are going to be affected, the owners of the farms should be informed but as at this moment, we have not been notified officially that our project will be affected. And I wonder, which type of government does that. If we are serious about using the Agricultural sector to address the numerous socio-economic challenges of this country, then this is the kind of situation government should wade in and redirect whatever they are building even if the land is within the airport area. But the farm is not even in the airport land! When you look at the project I established there, it is a project of vision and government instead of supporting the project, wants to demolish it. That is totally unacceptable,” he said
The investor, who is based in the United Kingdom, explained that he decided to establish the investment as a model farm through which others of his ilk can emulate and bring down their investment into Anambra State.
“What I really want the State Governor, Willie Obiano to do, is to tell us what is happening because as at now we don’t know what is happening. Even if my farm will be affected, I want to believe that the right thing to do is not just to compensate the owner but also to relocate them to a suitable place where they can continue to be useful in terms of the kind of employment opportunities they have created and the type of model we want to create- that one can live abroad and still be able to create employment that will help solve the socio-economic problems of our people back home. What they are doing now is discouraging investors to come home,” he regretted.
Offor appealed for the prompt intervention of the state government, towards ensuring that his investment and those of others around the area are safe.
This according to him, is because his investment is not in the area given to the government for the airport project.
“This is one of those things that when you hear, you won’t believe because you know you have done all the right things. It defies common sense. The community land which probably has been given to the government for the airport project stopped at Ngene Igbokwe. Ngene Igbokwe is the stream that bothers my farm and the side that leads to the airport. That’s why the youths stopped them as they are equally aware of the details. So, I appeal to governor Obiano to halt further trespass on that property by those doing the airport project because I can assure you that there is no way that farm will be touched and I will keep quiet. I will not just shout for people around to see what is happening but also for the international community to hear me out and that is why I am pleading to the government to intervene now,” the investor said.
Some of the workers in the farms, Emmanuel Ede, Sarah Akputa and Anthonia Nnabuisi appealed to the government not to put them out of job by demolishing the farms.
According to them, the issue of unemployment is already a major challenge in the country and putting them out of job through such demolition, will spell severe hardship not only for them but also for their dependents.
When TNC reporter contacted the State Commissioner for Works, Marcel Ifejiofor, he revealed that they were working with an acquisition map given them by the Ministry of Lands, adding that the acquisition of the land was done years before the farms were established.
“Anything acquisition of lands is the responsibility of the Ministry of Lands and the acquisition map we are working with was provided by the Ministry. I know that the acquisition of these lands were done some in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 way before these people acquired the lands they are occupying. So where those bulldozers were this morning is part of the airport land,” he stressed.