By John Okeke
The Amagu Progressive Forum over the weekend described allegations of land grabbing against former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim, as “spurious, indefensible and unfounded”.
Chairman of the group, Hon. Fabian Osi Uka, in a statement, explained that Amagu community decided to develop the Ovumte land to ultra-mondern city for the benefit of every indegene is no land grabbing, and appealed for restraint people stoking crises in the community to retrace their steps.
He stated that communal ownership of the land predates every living person in Amagu community, wondering why certain persons would fabricate lies against a gentleman of Sen. Anyim’s stature.
He urged people who feel aggrieved to wait for resolution of matter already “before the courts, rather than resort to cheap blackmail and unimaginable lies against Sen. Anyim”.
He reiterated that blackmail serves no interest, adding that he would not approve of such blackmail.
According to him, the Amagu Development Union (ADU), remains the umbrella body of Amagu citizens and the highest decision-making organ of Amagu Ishiagu Community in Ivo Local Government Area in Ebonyi State.
The body which he said has branch unions in all the states of the federation is responsible for the administration, development and maintenance of peace and order among the people.
He said that Ovumnte, is not a village in Amagu Community, but farm settlement for every Amagu indigene, so designated since time immemorial, adding that “the rule for anybody or family to farm in the Ovumte is that such a person would first notify the ADU to grant permission and each farmer remains a tenant of the community, and pays ground rate periodically in the form of ‘Orji-Ali’ through the ADU leadership.
He stated that in 1998, Sen. Anyim had approached the ADU under the leadership of late Mr. Raymond Chukwu, for a parcel of land at Ovumte for residential purposes, stressing that “there were concerns on how Anyim could live in the farm land alone considering that Ovumte is about 15 kilometres from Amagu community residential area.
“In 1999, the union approved Anyim’s request after he assured them that he would construct access road to Ovumte, and when he became a Senator, he developed his residence on the parcel of land approved for him after completing all the rites required by the ADU, and thereafter constructed access roads to Ovumte.
“In 2001, the ADU set up a Land Use Committee chaired by the Late Cosmas Ajah to look into the possibility of parcellating the Ovumte land into residential plots since the present Amagu residential area is already congested and many of the young ones are coming up strong with a desire for spaces to build their residence at home.
“On the submission of its report, the Union decided to convoke a Town Hall meeting otherwise known as Igbo-Uzo.
“This meeting involves all male adults in the community from the age of 18 years and above, and was held at Akanu Village Square to discuss and seek approval of the community on the way forward for Ovumte land.
“The said Town Hall Meeting held in April, 2001 and approved the conversion of Ovumte land from farm land to residential land.
“Following this it was unanimously aggreed that each family in the village must get a piece of land, therefore the land committee should undertake a census of the families in the community
“By the year 2011, the third Town Hall meeting was convoked to approve the family enumeration and the meeting held and approved a total of 300 families and 300 plots of 1,000 sq. meters each be set aside for each family to pay a token to access it.
“That if any family has a farmhouse in Ovumte already, the farm house should be carved into a 1,000 sq. meter plot for that family”, they said.
The group frowned at the recourse by one Mr. Moses Orji, a former Education Secretary in Ivo local government and one time Caretaker Committee Chairman of old Ohaukwu Local Government Area, who was accused of engaged in unsubstiated acts innimical to the interests of the community.
They said it was erroneous for any indegene to equate long occupation to the right of permanent ownership of the land, forgetting the conditions precedent under which access is granted into the land.
They commended Sen. Anyim who they said improved on the fortunes of several youths in the community through the Chioma Pius Anyim Foundation, as well as elderly men and women who are given monthly stipend till date.