Over the weeks there has been a concerted effort to distort and rewrite history as well as soil the image of one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialist Prince Ned Nwoko.
Ned as he is fondly called ,a former House Of Representatives member has also been allegedly linked to allegations of various land grabbing in his homeland of Idumuje Ugboko.
For those who are quite familiar with the character of the man, nothing can be further from the truth .
The crux of the matter and the truth remains that the indutralist and phalantropist on the quest of bringing knowledge to his people as well create an industrial hub On the 16th of March 2015 applied to HRM Obi Albert O. Nwoko III; JP; MON and the Kingdom through his law firm, Linas International Limited requesting 90-Hectare land to add-up to the 33 hectares earlier given to him for establishment of a Diary farm, an International Standard 18 holes Golf Course and a Sports University (STARS UNIVERISTY, IDUMUJE-UGBOKO).
This request was granted him by Obi-in-Councils (whose responsibility is to allocate community land for developmental purpose). All compensation to acquire the land were fulfilled.
A general meeting (Izu-Ani) was convened in April 2015 by the Obi in consultation with the Chiefs as tradition demands.
After elaborate deliberations on the development values the projects would bring to Idumuje -Ugboko, the entire community resolved amongst other decisions that:
That the request be approved and the king (Obi) should communicate approval in writing to Linas International Limited through Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko since the request came in writing.
That the Kingdom will not sell land to Linas International Limited but to go into partnership with the company using the land as idumuje’s investment in the partnership.
That the land to be allocated should be mapped out from the kingdom development land and that the tenant-farmers on the land should compensated.
That a Committee comprising representatives of the four (4) federating villages, the development Union be set up to be known as the Enlarged Land Allocation Committee. The only Terms of Reference of the Committee which was headed by the Iyase (Traditional Prime Minister and Mouthpiece of the kingdom) was to work out modalities for the implementation of the decision of the Kingdom, locate and communicate the location of the piece/parcel of land and raise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Linas and Idumuje-Ugboko Kingdom. The MoU includes among other things that 40% equity in the university belongs to Idumuje-Ugboko
The king (Obi) thereafter, wrote to Linas International Limited communicating the decisions of the Kingdom in a letter dated 10th April 2015 through Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko.
It is worthy of note that this area of Idumuje-Ugboko land which covers from the Community boundary from Onicha-Ugbo through to Igbodo and Umunede towns was agreed to be earmarked by the community for development project as a consensus judgement was entered into in 1969 between Onicha-Ugbo and Idumuje-Ugboko at the High Court of the Midwest. This followed a legal battle between the two Communities of Onicha-Ugbo and Idumuje-Ugboko which lasted thirteen (13) years (1956 – 1969).
It was resolved that anyone can farm on the land without cultivating cash crops as the community may choose any particular section of the land for development purposes and the farmer should vacate the land occupied without compensation.
At a stakeholders’ meeting on 11th July, 2015, Prince Ned Nwoko took time to explain in details the work he has done towards the university/Golf projects and the commitment of the entire community. One of the stakeholders present expressed delight and eulogizing the qualities of Prince Ned Nwoko and thanked him for his patriotic initiatives towards Idumuje-Ugboko.
The meeting therefore approved the proposal and mandated the then President-General of the community Bennet Odor and his National Executive to liaise with Prince Ned Nwoko and Linas International to ensure that the project do not fail.
The development union wrote to Aniocha North Local Government Council confirming the community support to the project and the allocation of the land for the proposed project.
Prince Ned Nwoko and Linas International Ltd in line with the recommendations of the Izu-Ani Land Allocation Committee has paid compensation to genuine tenant-farmers on the land as well as paid the mandatory allocation committee expenses.
It is on record as a proven fact that all Idumuje-Ugboko farmers had been compensated by Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko of which over N180 million was spent for compensation. The idea for the settlement was to stop them from farming at the golf course land, within the STARS university. Payment was made as recent as March 2020 to some of the farmers and anyone with genuine claims of having been omitted is obliged to come forward.
It is worthy of note that in deference to the implementation of the peace agreement brokered by the Obi of Owa kingdom, HRM Emmanuel Efeizomor and other royal fathers in Anioma area, to withdraw all cases in court including the land dispute, Prince Ned Nwoko has fully complied.
Though most of the farmers are not the original owners of the land as they are itinerant crop cultivators and strangers farming on Idumuje Ugboko ancestral land, they were paid compensation for peace and harmony, sequel to a request by the then Obi of the kingdom, the late Obi Albert Okwuwadiegwu Nwoko III.
Also the farmers at the neigbouring Onicha-Ugbo kingdom had been paid over N40 million and negotiations are ongoing with a view to legally acquire more of the land for the expansion of the golf course. If any of the farmers around the University still has any issue to settle, such person should come forward and approach the authorities of the University project instead of casting unnecessary aspersions on the social media.
It bears emphasis to state that all documents relating to the ownership of the land where the STARS university is located, were duly and legally acquired by Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko.