Hundreds of residents of Amuzu community in Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State have protested plans by the state government to take over a vast expanse of land belonging to the community.
Reports said the state government was planning to use the land, among many other hectares of land across the state, for mechanized farming to improve the internally generated revenue of the state, following drop in oil prices.
The angry villagers, comprising the youth, aged men and women, were seen in their hundreds protesting in the premises of the community secondary school in the area where the caretaker chairman of the local government, Joseph Egede, invited them for a peace talk.
PREMIUM TIMES reporter who visited the community reports that prior to the protest, Mr Egede had explained to the aggrieved residents that government’s plan to take over the land was in the interest of the community.
The protesters, however, disagreed with the explanation, saying government had in the past taken over most of their lands without compensation.
They accused the local government chairman, and their traditional ruler of working against the interest of the people of the community.
Efforts by the council boss and other stakeholders to calm down the irate villagers was, however, not successful.
Mr Egede, having observed that the gathering was turning riotous, immediately staged a walkout, thereby bringing the peace talk to an abrupt end.
The villagers immediately moved toward the caretaker chairman and started booing and insulting him.
They later proceeded to the land in contention and removed all the beacons government used in marking it.
Not satisfied with the removal of the beacons, they moved to the traditional ruler’s palace to register their grievances.
He was said to be absent when the protesters arrived.
The angry villagers therefore decided to tie the palm fronds around the palace as a “warning signal”.
Some of the protesters who spoke to our reporter in confidence explained that the major reason for the protest and rejection of the planned takeover of the land was hinged on the fact that they were not consulted.
“How could government wake up one day and start measuring our land with the intention of taking it from us without our consent,” they questioned.
According to them, the land belongs to many households which they use individually for farming, a practise that has been on for decades.