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9 Aug 2017

Serious Tension as Imo Community and Church Go Into Battle Over Land Acquisition

A community in Imo State has gone into a heated war with the church over land acquisition, causing quite some tension in the area.
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According to a Punch Metro report, the Okoroezeala Umuaro Community in the Nkwerre Local Government Area of Imo State and the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Orlu Diocese, are currently at daggers drawn over alleged plans by the church to take over the premises of the orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps in the state.

Trouble began when some faithful of the church sighted a caterpillar clearing the bushy premises of the now abandoned orientation camp.

They were said to have immediately alerted some clerics of the church, who mobilised their colleagues, stormed the site and stopped the bulldozer from operation.

The irate Anglican priests, who were clad in black attire, thereafter, impounded the caterpillar and its operator, dragged them to the Nkwerre Local Government Divisional Police Station, where they were detained.

The bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Benneth C.I. Okoro, could not be reached for comment as he was said to be on an overseas vacation.

But the Dean of the Cathedral, S.S. Peter & John, the Divine, Venerable Cyril Okorie, told Southern City News that the land was originally donated to the church by the community in 1930.

“The land was at various times used as Women Training College, Teachers Training College as well as a remedial centre before it was later acquired by the Federal Government in 1995 as an orientation camp of the NYSC.

“Having now relocated the NYSC orientation camp to Eziama Obaire community, the church applied to the state government for a repossession of what belonged to her,” Okorie, who is also the Administrative Secretary to the bishop, said.

The traditional ruler of the community, HRH Eze Emmanuel Oluigbo (the Eze Aro I of Umuaro), who spoke through the Chairman of the Eze’s Cabinet-in-Council, Chief Stephen Ojidike, dismissed the argument of the clerics as baseless and untenable.

According to him, the community never, at any time, donated the land to the church, but only allowed the church to use it as an act of charity.

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