…Debunks Land grabbing allegation
By Nkechi Ojukwu
Following the news making rounds in the Media recently in Imo state by some individuals concerning land issues, the Commissioner for Lands has debunked the grabbing allegation against him.
” Putting the records straight every Land lawfully belongs to government and the government takes Land or lands from individual or community after due process”,he stated.
The state Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Physical Planning, Hon. Noble Obiaso Atulegwu, said this while charting with the Guild of Imo Field Journalist (GIFJ) during a recent courtesy visit to his office.
Hon Atulegwu regreted that those reports made in some Radio stations and on pages of Newspapers,making allegation against him on land grabbing were cheap lies from the pit of hell.
The allegations,he maintained were only targeted to tarnish his image and that of the state government.
The Commissioner who expressed disappointment at such unverified reports, advised journalist on the need for investigative journalism being the watchdog of the society and the Forth Estate of the Realm who ought to use their Pen that are mightier than sword to build the state rather than destroy her.
“But Shockingly, I have been passing a lot from the media space since my inception in the office as Commissioner for Lands, I am a son of Owerri West LGA and I must do my work without fear of favour.
He said, “I am experienced in this job, that is why the Governor appointed me in this Ministry and right things must be done.
Highlighting, the process of acquired Lands by the government and some lands issues in some parts of the state in recent times, Hon Atulegwu disclosed that about the Okuku land that was reported to have been forcefully grabbed by him, was given to the state government in 2017.
The commissioner revealed that the Traditional Rulers of the community wrote and asked government to take over possession of the said lands,adding that due process was followed in that regard.
“Compensation was paid to the community, regrettably the youths of the area went and sold the lands to individuals thinking that the government will not come for the lands.
” The same thing is applicable to Avu, Agbala, Nekede where indigenes took over government lands and once the state government wants to make use of such lands they will start crying foul, accusing authority of taking their Lands even when the proper negotiations were made and compensation paid to host communities by the same government.
“Every Land(s) acquired by the government in the state is for over ride public interest and due process was followed,unfortunately, the indigenes, will go and possessed the lands knowing that the lands belong to government by the Acts of Land Use.
“The issue of land is a very tough one but we have been taking the pains in settling them, one after the other. If the host communities of Imo State University, Federal Medical Centre, Imo state Polytechnic and so many other government establishments, didn’t release those lands to the government, would there have been those infrastructures?
“Government has not collected anybody’s land without due negotiation and compensation. Do not listen to those accusing the government of grabbing their lands with force. This is falsehood.
“And for the Nekede zoo, that was relocated, the reason was that tourist centres such as zoos are not usually cited in the heart of the city for safety reasons. That’s why His Excellency has relocated it to somewhere in the state.
Earlier, the Chairman of GIFJ, Comrade Kelechi Ugo, in his remarks said that the members are real soldiers in the field reporting in the state.
“We are here to hear from the Horse’s mouth, what is actually happing in the Ministry as it concerns Land matters in some parts of the state, especially in Okuku in order to balance the reports made round the state.
He regretted that members of the Guild as well other journalists in the state have been diligent in the discharge of their duties but are not given due attention from the government, declaring its readiness to partner with the Ministry.
Speaking, Reginald Oloko, described the Commissioner as among the outstanding Commissioners whose legacy always speaks for itself and strong apostle of the Shared Prosperity Government, urging him to convey the Guild’s challenges to the Governor.
The Assistant Secretary of the Guild, Comrade Ifeanyi Iheakanwa, PRO, Joshua Chibuzom and some others spoke in turns during the interaction.