By Martin Nwoko
Vehicular movement and business activities were literally halted for hours in Mgbidi community of Imo State following a peaceful protest staged by over 3000 indigenes of Mgbidi in Oru West Council Area of the state.
The protesters led by the community chieftains were demanding for the return of their over 100 hectares of land which according to them was illegally occupied by the Lord Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement.
The people who are mainly the land owners accused the church of acquiring the land which houses the proposed site for the construction of Imo Chosen Crown University by the Church, without due process and proper documentation.
Speaking to Newsmen on behalf of the Mgbidi community, Dr. Sir Sylvester Akukwe, Chairman, Mgbidi Peoples Forum and Chief Everest Ogbeleje, Chairman, Land Recovery Committee, set up by the LGA Chairman, Hon. Kenneth Akunakwe, and others accused the Church of conspiring with few individuals in the community to take over the land.
Others chieftains including Hon. Collins Ezenwa Ilo, Chief Joseph Ikunna, Nze Okezie Ekezie and Sir Ihekwuaba Imo, threatened to explore legal means to eject the church from the land if they do not come up for proper negotiation and legal acquisition of the said land.
They disclosed that they have made several efforts to get the church to meet with the land owners and the Land Recovery Committee so as to sort out the differences but the church authorities defiantly declined their invitations.
“We are the original owners of the land. We are demanding that the church should leave our land. They did not follow due process to get the land. That’s why we are protesting. What we are fighting is a just cause. We are fighting against illegality and injustice and we want the world to know that”, the protesters said.
Inscriptions on the placards being carried by the protesters reads “Chosen Church must leave our land with immediate effect; Chosen Church is a threat to Mgbidi; Chosen Church, we are tired of your excesses; Chosen, you can’t have our land without our consent, among others.
When contacted, one of the pastors of the church in the area who does not want his name on print, declined to comment on the report, stressing that the matter is in the court, and it would amount to prejudice, if he does.