By Ifeoma Ofurum
Contrary to allegations of marginalization and cheating against the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO) over land acquisition, officials of the university have maintained that it did not cheat the host communities.
Some leaders of the communities who spoke to Christian Voice said that the university over-stepped boundaries, leading to the recent disruption of the peace between the institution and the people.
They said that the university had acquired too much land which, to them, is wasting while they looked for land to farm on.
The community members comprising Ihiagwa, Obinze and Eziobodo, said that they were preparing to share out the portion in contention to their youths who are at the moment in need of land for habitation before the university started its expansion on it.
“We are presently living in compact places. One can hardly drive his vehicle into his compound. There is poor ventilation”, one of the elders said.
They drew the attention of the public to the fact that the communities, especially Obinze, is also host to the Army Barracks which gulped much space, leaving nothing for the land owners.
According to them, FUTO went beyond the boundaries to build houses while there was vast empty space within the area they acquired.
Again, they complained of neglect in employment of their people in the institution as well as a statement credited to a top official of the institution that the hosts communities were not landlords but neighbours and that they would not yield an inch of the land.
FUTO, they said, followed it up by clearing the land, thus incensing the youths to action.
A top official of FUTO who spoke to Christian Voice, however, said that FUTO did not go beyond the acquired space, challenging anyone who wished to view the survey plan to come to the office.
He debunked the claim that jobs were not offered to the indigenes, saying that his department alone employs more than 25 of the people from the host communities.
He also said that compensations were paid to the communities when FUTO acquired the area many years ago.
According to him, the buildings under construction which were destroyed were meant for the university staff quarters and was being build under contractor-financed agreement.