FUTO VC Decries Land Encroachment, Activities of Speculators

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Amby Uneze in Owerri

The Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Professor Francis Eze, has decried the activities of land speculators and land grabber as reoccurring issue militating against the full development of the institution’s master plan and the realisation of its medical school in particular.

Eze noted that the institution had brought huge development to the host communities since the relocation of the university to her permanent site in 1993.

He also denied selling any land belonging to the university to anybody as alleged by host communities, stressing that “our original position is that the FUTO does not have the power to cede any land to anybody.”

The vice chancellor clarified that the proposal initiated by the university’s governing council requesting the federal government to approve that about 2,471.05 acres of land should be ceded to the host communities is yet to be concluded.

He further explained that the proposal is currently being deliberated on by a committee made up of the Imo State Government through the state’s commissioner for Lands, Survey and Physical Planning, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the FUTO.

“It is unfortunate that anybody from Imo State is against our expansion. The governor and the Minister of State for Education are trying to assist us realise our goals. What the host communities’ attorney, Mr. Sam Anokam, is driving at is his personal interest. It is the pressure from the host communities that the governing council proposed a certain part of the land to host communities,” Eze said.

He also denied the allegation that he refused to give out land to host communities as ordered by the federal government.

“There is nothing like that. It is like a battle between darkness and light. Yes, I have interest and that interest is to develop the FUTO and project it as a place of excellence. We have not returned any inch of the FUTO’s land to anybody. There is no committee involving the institution’s director of Works and her physical planning counterpart to give out any land to host communities.

“The land we have is not even enough but the governing council proposed to cede about 1,000 hectares out of 4,500 hectares of FUTO land back to the host communities. That is only a proposal and not finality. No land has been given out already. We want the committee set up by the state government on the issue to conclude on the governing council’s proposal and as soon as that committee is through with her work, it will submit her report to the state governor who will eventually contact the federal government to implement on the issue,” he stated.