Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
It has emerged that the federal government triggered RUGA alarm in Abia State when it was discovered that a trailer park planned for Arungwa in Osisioma local government was ‘unusual’.
The trailer park was designed to include police post, hospital, bank, hotel and school hence people started suspecting that it was a RUGA project in disguise.
The traditional ruler of Umuobasi, Professor Sunday Owualah made this known in a statement he issued to debunk “the false accusation” by Abia State Government that he had engaged in “malicious insinuation” that land had been designated for RUGA project in the state.
Abia government had on July 17, 2019 alleged through the attorney general and commissioner for justice, Uche Ihediwa that Eze Owualah was crying wolf over RUGA and issued a seven-day ultimatum to apologise to the state government or face legal action.
But the embattled royal father whose domain is contiguous to Arungwa, the host of the suspected RUGA project, said that he only got involved in the controversy when the royal father of Arungwa, Eze Ndukwe Enwereji invited him to mediate in the communal dispute over the land acquired by government for trailer park.
He explained that the root cause of the dispute was that Enwereji’s subjects were unhappy that he “authorised (land) acquisition by government without wider due consultation and unanimity with the larger segment of his community, particularly the elites.”
Prof. Owualah said that Enwereji had lamented that he was being maligned and falsely accused by his people despite the amenities that trailer park was going to host.
“It was at this stage that I cautioned there was need for circumspection in view of the unfolding developments around cattle colony and cattle route in Nigeria presently,” he said.
“My word of caution stemmed from the size of land involved and the facilities to be hosted in the Trailer Park”.
The royal father said that he had on April 25, 2019 while Ihediwa was still commissioner for lands “shared my concerns and fears with him for the size of project in a land-scarce environment”.
He further stated that he equally raised the issue of possible breach of the purpose clause in the long in view of the unfolding events the country, adding that it was wrong for the commissioner to accuse him of raising false alarm on RUGA.
Apparently not satisfied with Ihediwa’s answers to the posers surrounding the trailer park the royal father said that he drew the attention of Ngwa Social Club to the issue on May 26, 2019 via a WhatsApp group.
According to him, the NSC would “help me interrogate this project at the appropriate quarters because of the Club’s strong stakeholder status in the affairs of Ngwa land over the years”.
Eze Owualah stoutly defended his action and justified his interest in the trailer park affair even though Eze Enwereji had failed to properly sell the project to his Arungwa people.
He said: “As a traditional ruler whose Community is contiguous to Arongwa Autonomous Community, particularly the two villages in the location of the proposed Trailer Park, I consider it my moral and ethical duty to protect the overall interest of my people and others resident in it now or in the future.
“That is exactly what I did in taking up the task of drawing attention to the unintended consequences of this decision that might affect generations now and those yet unborn so that proper and due consideration is given to it by all stakeholders and not just only HRM Eze Enwereji and his supporters”.