The Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU) has restated the resolve of the South East zone to legally resist any laws by the federal government to wrest them of their lands or water courses and resources.
This was made known in a press briefing by the ASETU Saturday where they insisted that the Water Resources Bill being touted by the federal government was another and disguised form of the old Ruga plan where the government stealthily plans to forcefully take lands from Nigerian communities and designate them for grazing for cattle herders.
The position of ASETU was signed by Chief Emeka Diwe, the National President and Hon. Gideon Adikwuru, National Secretary.
The body reasoned that the content of the law entails that the entire city of Onitsha, Abakaliki, Oguta, Owerri, Okigwe and others located by Rivers Niger and others would be annexed forcefully by the federal government as its territory.
The statement said: “We have read the statement credited to the Honorable Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in which he made some efforts to deny the nexus between the infamous Water Resources Bill and the rejected RUGA agricultural program.
The Minister, instead of clarifying the grey areas in the Bill, ended up obfuscating the issue and confirming to us that there is more to the Bill. We therefore wish to state categorically, as the umbrella union of all the communities in Igboland, that no single Igbo community will give up any part of its land or water for this obvious RUGA program which has now been baptized.
The summary of this Water Bill is that it gives the Federal Government ownership not only over water and underground resources, but absolute control over about three kilometres from the waterfronts. To be clear, this is a disaster in view of the fact that there is hardly any community in Igboland where water bodies are not found.
By this Bill, the entire Onitsha, which is surrounded by the Niger River and other waters, will belong to the Federal Government. Also, the entire Owerri, Oguta, Abakaliki, and most parts of Enugu, Aba, Umuahia, Awka, Okigwe, and over sixty percent of all Igbo communities will be taken over by the Federal Government. This is the most audacious plan in history to hijack Igboland!
In addition to our earlier position that a practice of this nature has no place under a federal arrangement, the Bill also violates the Land Use Act and it is hugely flawed by its provision that the Federal government will authorise or licence persons who may want to sink boreholes anywhere in Nigeria.
In Attorney General of Lagos State v Attorney General of the Federation the Supreme Court held that the power over physical planning in any state of the Federation is exclusively vested in the state government and that the National Assembly lacks the power to legislate on the physical planning outside the Federal Capital Territory.
It becomes worrisome that the Federal Government would want to break its own laws in order to acquire our resources for the use of the Fulani herdsmen. This is an existential threat to all Igbo communities and we will never allow it to happen.