Youths reject FG’s fish farm, say project is a scam in Abia State

13:09 Jan 28 2022 Abia State

Youths of Ariam Elu-Elu village in the Ariam Osoigwe Autonomous Community of the Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State, on Tuesday, prevented the inauguration of the National Agricultural Land Development Agency’s fish farm in the area.

The event was called off as the youth mobilised villagers to protest against the project sited in the community.

The youth took to the streets chanting war songs and lamenting that the project was a land-grabbing scam and detrimental to the interests of the villagers, who were not carried along in its execution.

They pointed accusing fingers at one Kelvin Ugboaja, who allegedly attracted the project to the community, accusing him of manipulating the terms in his favour.

They also alleged that Ugboaja, who is a former Executive Chairman of the local government council, used his position as a lawyer and his relationship with the NALDA Executive Secretary, Prince Paul Ikonne, “to hoodwink the landowners and grab their land under false pretences.”

The youth alleged that about N3bn was released as compensation to landowners, but none of the landowners had received any money.

According to them, a Memorandum of Understanding signed between NALDA and the community is “a manipulated document” and has no input from the community and landowners.

However, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, Ugboaja explained that NALDA did not pay compensation but was to carry out independent development in the community.

He said the mode of operation was clearly spelt out to the community, including developing and handing over the project to it.

According to him, it is a project of the Federal Government to empower communities.

He explained that the protest was by “people who don’t know the value of the project,” adding, “The community was ready for the inauguration when miscreants came in looking for money and objecting to the banana aspect of the project.”

He added that the first leg of the project had been completed and the fishery had 500,000 fishes.

Others include completed hatchery, tarred road to the site, office blocks and planting of bananas on 50 hectares of land.

He noted that NALDA under Ikonne had done well in the reduction of poverty and that the community was also happy.

He said the project was on a piece of land taken over by erosion and NALDA recovered it, adding that the community would resolve the issue.
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