Ebonyi Govt, Community On Collusion Course Over N19M
Amata-Akpoha autonomous community leased her 13.4 hectares for 19 million naira without the consent of the state government.
Angered by the development, Senior Special Adviser, Kenneth Ugbala to Ebonyi state government stormed the mining site with combined security operatives, arrested seven persons and sealed up the site.
It was leased to Asphalt Unity Construction Company by some members of the community without approval from government agencies.
The miners were arrested by a combined team of security operatives from the Nigeria Army, Police, and DSS on the directive of the Ebonyi State government.
Speaking at the mining site, Kenneth Ugbala, Senior Special Assistant to Ebonyi governor on Internal Security, said;
"We are here in a team led by myself and honourable Commissioner for Solid Minerals, because it came to our knowledge that some communities and companies are violating the laws of Ebonyi state government concerning the procedures of going into mining in the state.
"Ebonyi state government has streamlined the procedures that should be followed when any company wants to go into mining. First you go through the communities, pass through the local government and you get final approval from the office of the commissioner for solid minerals.
"But here, there is a conflict and we learnt that some members of this community collected money without the knowledge of the government, and government of Ebonyi state directed that people should keep away from the land and follow the normal procedure.
"But to our surprise, we came here and in our routine check and inspection, we found out that some people have violated the directives of Ebonyi state government.
"We are here to make sure the law is maintained; we are here to make sure we get those that are involved and we are here to let the villagers know that when government says this is the directives, it should be followed.
"We equally want the company to know that we are not in haste to sell the future of our children.
"We don't want some fast individuals in the community to collect money, defraud companies and start using the money they collected to make troubles, so we are here to make sure that this site is sealed off, nobody should enter it until the state government, through the ministry of solid minerals, gives further directives.
"The culprits had been arrested and we are taking them along to make sure the law has its effects on them. We are going to deploy enough security men in this place to make sure there is law and order. We don't want the villagers to panic. There is no trouble here; we just want to ensure that laws are followed." He said.
Speaking earlier, Coordinator of Amoha Development Center, Elder David Egwu alleged that chief Omo-Isu, former lawmaker who represented Afikpo North /South Federal Constituency connived with some other members of the community to illegally lease the land to the mining company.
"The land they leased to the company is a farm land belonging to five clans that make up the community thereby making it difficult for them to use their land.
"We have written to the state government, the police and to the SSS, but the most annoying thing is that somebody has lost his life here, one Omezue Patrick Okpara from Amata here in Ezi Mba last month because of the sharing of the money.
"Government gave directive that nobody should enter the land, Omo Isu, Igwe Ele and others said the governor should not decide for them which he said he is not deciding what happened to community land, but let there be peace that he would not want trouble anywhere in the state.
"Why will Omo Isu collect money when he is no longer the chairman of Akpoha Mining committee. He handed over November last year," he recalled.
When Omo Isu was contacted, he promised to speak to the press later on the accusations leveled against him.
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