Gov. Emeka Ihedioha of Imo has called for peace between the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and its host communities over a land dispute, according to Mr Chibuike Onyeukwu, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, in a statement.
In the statement issued in Owerri on Saturday, Ihedioha noted that the dispute between Obube and Umuowa communities in Owerri North and Ngor Okpala local government areas respectively and NAF Regiment 211 had lingered.
The governor who visited the area with the Commandant of the Regiment, Group Capt. Phillip Bindul, appealed to the communities to withdraw the case on the matter from the court.
He ordered the revocation of any land that was not in the original allocation and wrongly ceded to NAF.
He advised the communities to appreciate the role and contribution of NAF, especially regarding the organisation’s commitment to the provision of security and development.
Ihedioha assured the communities that the state government would partner with them to ensure that land not used for the purpose it was taken would be used for agricultural purposes.
The governor said the state would provide 5,000 hectares of land to partner Central Bank of Nigeria in agriculture and tasked the community to key into the project by making land available.
In his remarks, Bindul said litigation on the matter had hindered work on the proposed site.
He said NAF was allocated 100 hectares of land for the construction of 211 Regiment and promised that as a law abiding agency, it would not exceed the boundary allocated to it.
Bindul pledged the commitment of NAF to maintaining a harmonious relationship with the communities.
The traditional ruler of the area, Eze Jude Nwaogu, on behalf of the communities, commended Ihedioha for his prompt intervention in the dispute.
He gave an assurance that the people would cooperate and support efforts for a peaceful resolution of the matter, adding that the people were desirous of peace and development in their communities.
Nwaogu alleged the original allocation for the Air Force was 100 hectares but was increased to 5,000 hectares by the past administration in the state.
He called for a Memorandum of Understanding between the communities and NAF to ensure the success of the project.