By Balogun Mabamije
The people of Ekiugbo community in Ughelli North local government area of Delta state have issued a two-week ultimatum to the catholic mission to hands off their claims of ownership to the government school in Ekiugbo.
Speaking during a peaceful demonstration, the President General of the community, Mr. Ovwigho Emmanuel, said that the community did not sell the land to the catholic mission but was leased to them, stressing that the claim to ownership by the mission was erroneous.
Mr. Ovwigho said that they were surprised that the school which was expected to open for the new academic session after pupils were given admission could not, because the mission stopped the government, claiming that the land belong to it.
“On our side, we the community, the owners of the land, we told the mission that we didn’t sell the land to them”, and in as far as they want to deprive the common man and their children from going to school, we will equally disturb you”, he said.
Speaking further, he disclosed that the Ekiugbo community had given the mission two weeks ultimatum to rescind their claims to ownership of the land and allow the school to open or be forced to quit the land.
“We have given them two weeks ultimatum and at the expiration of the two weeks, if they refuse to hands of from the school, we shall forcefully ask them to quit the land because we did not sell the land for them”, he stated.
Mr Ovwigho disclosed that before the protest, they wrote to local and state governments, to inform them of the protest which he said was the first stage of their action.
The President General said that what they were doing was for the interest of the common man, adding that the school fees of the mission school was unaffordable for the common man, adding that they would not relent in their fight to get the school back to government.
They were also at the palace of the Ovie of Ughelli to express their grievances, where the Ovie, Dr Wilson Oharisi III, JP, expressed his concern for the interest of the community but told them to exercise caution while fighting for their rights. “You have every right to protest but I want to sincerely advise you to go about it in a peaceful manner so that you will not disturb public peace”, he said.
At the Ministry of Education office in the Ughelli North Local Government Area, they were received by the Chief Inspector of Education, Mr Anthony Akponovo, who assured them of his support, adding that the ministry had been on the matter and assured them that it would be pursued to a logical conclusion.