Representatives of Umuokwere in Okwu autonomous community, Ogbaku town of Mbaitoli Local Government Area (LGA), Imo State, on 18 January 2024, paid a courtesy visit to the Customs Area Controller (CAC) Abia/Imo Area Command, Comptroller Mohammed Gidado in Owerri, Imo State.
In a press release on 9 February 2024 by Superintendent of Customs, Nnamdi Aligwekwe, the Public Relations Officer of the Command, reveals that representatives of Umuokwere visit is in connection with the invasion of a property belonging to the Nigeria Customs Service in the community.
According to the statement, the Service had commenced a fencing project on a land duly assigned to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at Umuokwere village in Okwu autonomous Community of Ogbaku town, Mbaitoli LGA in Imo state.
Comptroller Mohammed Gidado noted in the statement that the representatives from the village revealed that the destruction of the fence at the NCS building site was done at night hour by suspected youths. “Local investigation shows that the youth who carried out the crime were suspected to be indigenes from a neighbouring village called Ogbuke in Ogbujioma autonomous community.”
Similarly, they informed the Customs Area Controller that the reason for the invasion and destruction of the ongoing fence project was presumed to be the dissatisfaction of a few members of Ogbuke village in Ogbujioma autonomous Community who were not pleased with how the boundary dispute was settled.
Most importantly, the delegates explained to the CAC that the land allotted to the NCS is situated at the boundary between Umuokwere village of the Okwu community and Ogbuke village in the Ogbujioma community. They equally stated that the land controversy between the two villages was officially settled between the two communities before it was allotted to the Nigeria Customs Service.
They emphasised there was no iota of controversy between the leaders of both communities, although a few members were still not satisfied with the mode of settlement.
“The leaders from the neighbouring village currently have no issues with how the boundary conflict was settled. However, a few members were unhappy with how the land dispute was settled between the two villages. The dissatisfaction from the few members of Ogbuke village is suspected to be the reason why they raided the NCS land and destroyed the erected fence,” the delegates explained.
Comptroller Mohammed Gidado notified the delegates from Umuokwere village that the report on the unfortunate incident had been conveyed to the NCS headquarters and necessary actions would be taken as directed by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi (MFR).
He showed gratitude to the representatives of the communities for their visit to the Abia/Imo Customs Area Command to express their concerns and sadness over the hideous incident.
“On behalf of the Controller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi (MFR), I urge you to continue to give the contractors the needed cooperation and protection to complete the project, which will be of great benefit to the people of Umuokwere village and Mbaitoli Local Government Area at large,” he solicited.
Likewise, they expressed joy while acknowledging the existence of the Nigeria Customs Service in their Community as they undoubtedly believe it would bring tremendous development for their people while assuring the Service of their utmost cooperation to the contractors to ensure the successful completion of the project.
The representatives from Umuokwere village assured the Customs Area Controller of their unwavering support to identify and bring to justice the suspects who carried out the partial demolition of the Nigeria Customs Services’ ongoing project.
Amongst the delegates were the President-general, Okwu Autonomous Community, Hon. Bede Oduoza; the Chairman, Umuokwere Village, Mr. Chima Oduoza; the Community Leader, Okwu Autonomous Community, Dr. Patrick Nnah and former Honorable Councilor, Ogbaku Ward, Hon. Ugochukwu Nnah.