Residents of Owalla in Uratta Autonomous Community, Owerri North Council Area of Imo State, have taken to the streets in protest against what they allege to be the forceful takeover of their lands by suspected government-backed agencies through the Ministry of Lands.
The aggrieved villagers recounted their ordeal, including tear gas attacks, beatings, and the destruction of their farmlands by caterpillar machines.
The protest, held on Sunday, aimed to draw attention to the plight of the residents, who voiced concerns about hunger due to the destruction of their crops and the resultant damage to their livelihoods.
One of the villagers, Michael Mbata, explained, “On the 12th of August 2023, we saw caterpillars driving into our community. Before you know it, we saw the caterpillar crushing our crops, and palm trees and brushing our lands. Our cassava, vegetables, we’re damaged.”
Despite the intervention of the traditional ruler and the Commissioner of Lands, Noble Atulegwu, the destruction reportedly persisted. The villagers alleged that some individuals, including Malachy Emeghara, were working in conjunction with the administration of the state governor, Hope Uzodimma, to seize their land.
Protesters criticized the actions, stating that while they supported the government, these alleged land seizures marred its image. They expressed concerns for their future and livelihoods, as they faced homelessness and food scarcity.
The villagers called on Governor Hope Uzodimma to investigate the situation and ensure justice. Their protest aims to shed light on what they perceive as gross injustice and seeks to protect their ancestral lands from being forcibly taken away.
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