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Imo oil-producing communities task govt on development

Oil-producing communities of Ohaji, Egbema in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo state have taken state government to task over the royalties paid by oil…

Oil-producing communities of Ohaji, Egbema in Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo state have taken state government to task over the royalties paid by oil firms as tax for rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure.

The communities said instead of rehabilitating roads in the oil bearing communities,  the state government has deployed the funds for rehabilitation of Owerri-Mbaise and Orlu-Akokwa roads.

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Addressing a press briefing in Owerri, the state capital, on Thursday, leaders of the community under the aegis of Egbema Forum,  accused the government of abandoning them.

Spokesperson of the group, Barr. Israel Onyeoyibo, said, “It’s on record and within the knowledge of all that Egbema has the Avu-Adapalm-Etekwuru road; Ejemekwuru-Agwa-Egbema; Oguta Motel-Egbema and Umuapu-Egbema roads. These roads have been I deplorable condition and no vehicle  plies that road to Egbema.

“Recently, the Federal Government brought to Imo State N70 billion as Imo state share of the taxes paid by the oil companies operating in Imo state.

“Basically those oil companies are operating in Ohaji-Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas of Imo state. In the circumstances, equity and fairness demand that Egbema with its peculiar nature and deplorable condition of its roads should be considered in putting part of that N70 billion to use by the government of Imo State.

“Only recently the governor of Imo state, Hope Uzodimma, flagged off the construction of Owerri-Mbaise-Umuahia road and Orlu-Akokwa road with the N70 billion leaving out the geese that lay the golden egg. Thus is unacceptable to the people of Egbema clan.”

They threatened to explore other means to push their grievances if government failed to hearken to their plea.

When contacted the Commissioner for information and Strategy,  Declan Emelumba, denied it, saying no money was received by the state government.

Emelumba said, “The claim by a group of people claiming to be from Egbema, in Ohaji/ Egbema Local Government Area that N70bn was released to the state government as accrued taxes from the oil producing status of the state, is totally false.

“No such money was released to the state government. This government runs an open and transparent process. There is no way such a huge amount of N70b could be released to the state government as accrued taxes, secretly.

“The truth is that the information is false. Those behind the press conference should desist from raising false alarm.”