By Festus Ahon
ASABA—DELTA State House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to urgently intervene and stop Edo State Government from encroaching on the state under the guise of public private partnership with Michelin Rubber Company.
The resolution followed a motion to that effect by the member representing Ukwuani constituency in the House, Mr Alphonsus Ojo, seconded by Mr Rueben Izeze, Ughelli South. The motion was unanimously adopted.
Ojo, in the motion brought under matters of urgent public importance during plenary presided over by the Speaker, Mr Monday Igbuya, said that the Edo State Government was encroaching on Umutu land in Ukwuani Local Government Area of the state.
He said that the encroachment was being perpetrated under the guise of public private partnership with a firm, Michelin Robber Company, stressing that farmlands belonging to Umutu community were being annexed by the Edo State Government for the partnership arrangement.
The lawmaker told his colleagues that the development was already causing tension in his constituency as the people’s lives were under threat, maintaining that urgent intervention by the Delta State Government was needed to sustain the relative peace in the area.
Ojo noted that the major occupation of Umutu people was subsistence farming, stressing that any attempt to occupy the farmlands will naturally be resisted by the people as their source of livelihood was being taken away.
He recalled that in 1912, under the then Central Province, part of the land in question was leased out to a company operating in the locality, disclosing that the land was re-occupied by the Umutu community when the company folded up after years of operation.
Ojo said that following issues raised as a result of the re-occupation, a joint consultative meeting between the then military administrators and other officials of Edo and Delta States was held on April 27 and 28, 1995, which also had in attendance officials of the National Boundaries Commission.
He said that a communique issued at the end of that joint consultative meeting clearly stated that the land belongs to Umutu community, expressing worry over the information reaching the people that the Edo State Government has started surveying the said land for a project it entered with Michelin Robber Company.
Referring to the relevant sessions of the 1999 constitution, the lawmaker reminded the House of its responsibility to make laws for good governance and security of lives and property of the people.
He stressed the need for urgent intervention of the the state government to douse tension and avert crisis in the area.
describing Umutu as a peace loving community.