The Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Imo State has raised fresh concern over continued invasion of its land and warned those involved in the persistent incursions to immediately desist from such act.
Briefing the Press on Tuesday, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Francis Eze complained that despite extensive benefits given to the host communities which include: medicare, employments, favourable admission policies amongst others, acts of encroachment on the university land have persisted thus robbing the university of worthwhile projects. The VC said that what is now happening is not just mere encroachment, it is invasion, even as he reminded the invaders that: “This land on which FUTO is sited was duly acquired and all the compensation paid”.
“Assuming the institution tends to build new hostels, it will not be possible because the site for the hostels has now already been encroached upon,” Prof. Eze lamented.
He also revealed that the bridge across Otammiri River is now threatened because they are now excavating sand near the pillars holding the bridge and to reclaim these lands requires a lot of resources. He also noted that the institution’s back gate was removed and the Nuclear Energy building, was being vandalized.
Prof. C. Eze bemoaned the recent invasion of about 500 hectares of FUTO land, which they have now cleared for sell. He warned buyers to beware.
He said, “We cannot sit down and allow this to continue otherwise we will not have a university”.
“It has been a very difficult and challenging time for all of us here in FUTO, we will continue to do the right thing despite all the threats on the life of the VC and his family, including some of his officers because this university is a special university”, he said.
He said FUTO is the biggest Federal Government project in Imo State and the whole of South-East, and expressed the management’s preparedness to guard the university jealously, adding that the institution has been making waves despite all the problem and challenges.
“You cannot quantify the benefits of a university to the host communities which include putting them on the map of the world apart from the economic benefits,” he said.
Prof. Eze said his administration cannot leave FUTO worse than they met it but rather to grow and possibly be the best institution in Africa, which is the mantra of his administration.
He said the university management would continue to seek avenues for amicable settlement and expressed joy that some prominent individuals from one of the host communities have shown some understanding after being thoroughly briefed and presented with original papers and map of FUTO.
Reacting to some of the questions from journalists, Prof. Eze explained that this issue of encroachment started about six years ago, from allowing the host communities to continue to farm on the land until the university has a need for it, from there they even started harvesting from the staff farm, and then went further to start erecting structures inside FUTO’s land.
He explained that it requires a lot of resources to police FUTO, to build perimeter fence and each administration had done its part to curb the insurgence. The VC revealed that his administration has started fencing FUTO but they cannot do it all alone, that’s why they are seeking help from the Federal Government, institutions and individual contributions. Prof. Eze denied the allegation that Federal Government didn’t fully compensate the host communities, stressing that he has all the evidence adding that if FUTO was fenced from the start, all these issues of encroachment wouldn’t have emerged.