As Anambra State get set for the November 16 governorship election, youths from 20 villages that make up Ezinano community of Awka Tues threatened to go to war with the state government if it fails to relinquish its land which is currently within Rock Land Housing Estate, Awka.

The youths, who staged a peaceful protest in the area, alleged that their land was being used by the state government as Public Relations for cronies and loyalists of Governor Peter Obi and are threatening to disrupt the poll.

Comrade Obi Ochijie, the Chairman, Ezinano Development Forum led the protesters round the area asking labourers and artisans on various construction sites to stop work.

?Whenever government acquires land it is for public interest but this land was acquired for private interest.

?If government had acquired the property for construction of schools, hospitals or industries and create employment for our people, the community would even give more out.

?But the land which is almost 1,600 plots was acquired by government and given to a private developer who sells a plot at N7.5 million.

?I am holding the youths now as their leader. We have woken up. We will take this land back. Governor Peter Obi should give back our land before he leaves office.

?Today we came in peace, if government fails to listen to us before November 16 it won?t be peace.

?If government refuses to give back our land to us, there will be revolution and war in Awka,? Ochijie warned.
According to him: ?We will also work against the governor?s interest in the election if he fails to give our land back to us.?

The chairman; however, said that the community would exhaust all avenues for peace including giving opportunity to the government for possible dialogue.

According to Ochijie, the majority of indigenes of the town do not even have plots of land to build their own houses.

However, a government engineer supervising road projects in the area during the protest, Engr. Mike Obiekwe, urged the protesters to officially write the state government on their grievances and demands.

He assured that the state government would take proactive measures to resolve the matter.

In telephone interview, however, the state Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Town Planning, Mr Okoli Akirika, appealed to the youths to follow due process in making their demands.

According to Akirika, the land was acquired by government on a Public Private Partnership arrangement for the overall interest of the state.

?We have constructed roads from the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway to the place as well as ensured road projects within the area. Those road projects are 80 percent completed.

?It is on record that Governor Peter Obi has been the most responsive and responsible governor when it comes to payment of compensation on lands acquired and the requisite compensatory plots to communities in the state.

?It would be wrong to say that the land was acquired for private use.

?Apart from the road construction, the citing of the estate has greatly enhanced the value of land in the area,? he said.

The commissioner advised the youths against resorting to violence but should rather channel their grievances through the proper means.

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