Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Church, Community Spoil for War With Imo Govt Over School Playground

Owerri — Isi-Mgbidi community and Anglican Diocese of Oru are jointly spoiling for war with Imo State Government over the forceful conversion of the playground of Central School into a lorry park.

Addressing journalists in his office, Bishop Geoffre Chukwunenye accused government of trying to breach the prevailing peace in the community, stressing that the community and church were not ready to part with the land for any amount.

Wondering why school children would be deprived of their playground, the Anglican cleric lamented that government could not and should not use its apparatus to intimidate hapless citizens.

He said: "There is what they call due process. Why it was not applied in this case is most baffling, especially as the playground has already been bulldozed by the invading officials. Government cannot rescue us through intimidation, harassment and molestation of innocent citizens."

Already, the traditional ruler of Isi-Mgbidi, Eze J. C. Onyejekwe, has alerted the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the area about encroachment into church/school land.

He was particularly irked that government's action could lead to disorder between two neighbouring autonomous communites.

The royal father said: "We, therefore, wish to ask you to use your good office to stop them, pending due process of getting the education authorities/church and the community that gave out the land to know and grant permission, if necessary for such a project."

A letter dated December 20, 2012, addressed to Eze Onyenekwe and signed by the Commissioner for Transport, Chief Steve Ahaneku, had explained that the move to open and operate a lorry/vehicle park at Mgbidi had become necessary.

"This move has become necessary as a measure to reduce the carnage caused on our roads by big lorries parking indiscriminately along the roads," Ahaneku stated.

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