By Ignatius Okorocha
There are strong indications that land grab scandal may affect the approval of Maranatha University, Mgbidi, Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State, if nothing is done to resolve the lingering crisis.
Acting on behalf of the acclaimed owner of the land upon which the proposed private university would be sited, Barr. Innocent Ezeananu Oguaju-Dike has alleged ‘land grab’ by the proprietors of the university in connivance with the National Universities Commission (NUC).
It would be recalled that the Federal Executive Council approved about 20 universities on 3rd February, 2021 with the Maranatha University, Oru West LGA, Imo State among them.
According to documents obtained by Correspondent on Sunday, the Dike-Ada Royal family who claimed ownership of the ‘plot of land’ upon which the University was approved revealed their objection to the NUC’s approval as seen in series of correspondences between their lawyer and the NUC.
The family expressed disappointment that despite the assurances given by the National Universities Commission (NUC) that the approval of the institution would be suspended, it went ahead to approve it, maintaining that “the approval was obtained by fraud.”
The royal family, equally in a statement, insisted that the Maranatha University approval to be sited on the Anyaeruaba Dike was without their consent, describing the development as subjudice, while pointing out a pending lawsuit in Court.
In the letter of objection of approval of Maranatha University forwarded to the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, it explained that, the Dike-Ada Royal family has possession of the Supreme Court judgement which was delivered in 1912, stating that no individual could now lay claim to the controversial plot of land.
Responding to the letter dated 21st November, 2018 by the NUC, which was signed by the Director, Establishment of Private Universities, Alhaji Abdullahi Hamza, NUC assured Dike-Ada Royal family that the process of Maranatha University approval would be suspended based on evidences forwarded to it.
Part of NUC’s response letter reads: “I have been directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 10th October, 2018 on the above subject matter.
“It is pertinent to note that the Commission is not in receipt of any of the said attachments referred to in your letter namely, the suit filed, judgment of APC Weber J. of Supreme Court of Southern Nigeria, 1912; the survey plan showing the entire area of land the Appeal Court judgement of 1916.
“I am directed to request that you forward the aforementioned documents for our records.
As a follow up to NUC’s request, Barr. Innocent Ezeananu Oguaju-Dike insisted that all relevant documents have been submitted to NUC, urging the body to suspend approval and licensing of Maranatha University, which the NUC has acknowledged.
NUC’s decision in another letter reads: “Objection to the licensing and approval of the proposed Maranatha University, Oguta Road, Mgbidi on grounds of fraud.
“I have been directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 28th November, 2018 on the above subject.
“The letter contained the attachments earlier requested namely: the suit filed, earlier judgement of APC Weber J. of Supreme Court of Southern Nigeria, 1912; the survey plan showing the entire area of land and the Appeal Court judgement of 1916.
“I am therefore, directed to inform you that NUC has suspended further processing of the application of the proposed Maranatha University, Mgbidi, until the resolution of the matter in Court.”
In furtherance of the objection to approval of the University, the Royal family had earlier filed a case at the High Court, Mgbidi and the Federal High Court, Owerri asking for disapproval of the University , pending the determination of the case.
Part of the statement reads: “The approval of Maranatha University Mgbidi on my land by Federal Executive Council on February 3rd 2021 was obtained by fraud when matter is subjudice because Suit No: HOU/69 /2018 and Suit No: FHC/OW/CS/94/2020 were pending in High Court, Mgbidi and Federal High Court, Owerri on the subject matter of the case, the proprietors of Maranatha University Rev. Emeka Ngubo and Hon justice Grace Chukwunyere concealed the facts from Federal Government of Nigeria and deceived Federal Executive Council to approve Maranatha university.
“They removed the letter dated 20th Dec. 2018 written by National Universities Commission to me suspending the processing and approval of Maranatha University until suits in court are determined, following our objection to approval of Maranatha University on ground of fraud.
“Again the Council of National Universities Commission met with us on 17th February 2021 following our protest and petition against the approval by Federal Executive Council and confirmed that the Commission, the Federal Executive Council and even the President of Nigeria were deceived by the Director of private universities in NUC, who claimed that she did not see the letters and our petitions in the file of Maranatha University before sending it to Federal Executive Council for approval.
“Maranatha university has no land and no site plan.
“The papers are fake with forged land documents.
“Our Anyaeruabadike land was won by our ancestor Dike Ada with survey plan in the supreme court of the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, Degema assizes, 1912 and we have not sold or ceded any part thereof to Maranatha University.
“The proprietors approached us for settlement and offered us money, employment, etc. and even obtained CTC of our judgment and plan from National Archives, Enugu and confirming our title yet, they used forged documents and survey plans made in 2020 backdated to November, 2018 to deceive NUC and Federal Executive Council into granting approval in contrast with our survey plan and judgment of 1912 in contempt of court.
“We held a meeting with all the directors of NUC on 17th February 2021 and NUC told us that it has cancelled the approval by Federal Executive Council thay it was obtained by fraud and deception and directed us to come on Tuesday 23rd February to collect the written copy of the decision, but was yet to give us till date.”