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Environmental Degradation: Court Receives Final Submissions From Ajuona Obukpa, UNN/Viagem Case

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… Reserves Judgement July 23

The High Court, Nsukka on Thursday admitted all the final submissions from both parties relating to a case between Hon. Evangelist Nnaemeka Aleke representing Ajuona Obukpa Authonomous Community versus the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and Viagem Property which borthers on environmental degradation by UNN against Obukpa people.

During the proceedings of the court on 19-06-24, which started around 10am and ended around 11 am, which was presided over by the Administrative Judge, Nsukka Judicial headquarters, Hon. Justice Mrs. Hyacenthia Ezeugwu.

After the virtual court proceedings, the Judge slated the final judgement for Tuesday, July 23, 2024.

It was also observed during the rollcall by the court shortly before the court session started that Hon. Evangelist Nnaemeka Aleke was present in the court while UNN was absent.

In the same token, the first counsel to Hon. Aleke, Barr. Crescent Ikechukwu Odoh was present, the second counsel, Barr. Gerrard Eze was absent, while the third lawyer, Barr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, though absent, was represented by Barr. Onuigbo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who also participated virtually.

Our reporter observed that Eze-Igwe Willy Ezugwu, the Eze Ogbozarra III of Opi Ancient Kingdom and the Igwe of Ibagwa Opi Authonomous Community, who had been giving his support in his capacity as the Eze Ka Eze 1 of Ideke land, Nsukka, had earlier left the court for other engagements, when he observed that the court session was going to hold online not physically.

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Speaking to newsmen shortly after the court session, Hon. Aleke said, “Yes, we are coming to the end of the matter, am the one who filled the application, with approval from the entire Ajuona Obukpa Community over environmental degradation that has been engulfing the community over the years. By God’s grace, the matter has been adopted today and reserved for judgement for 23 of July 2024”.

Also speaking, Barr. Crescent Ikechukwu Odoh said, “am a Lawyer representing the plaintiffs in this case, Hon. Nnaemeka Aleke for himself and on behalf of his Ajuona Obukpa Authonomous Community against UNN and Viagem Construction company Nigeria Limited.

“What transpired today was the adoption of all the final written addresses of all the parties, that is the time Lawyers go back to their offices, summerize what happened, argue their cases and then submit it to the court to take final decision. That’s what we have adopted today, so after today, we are moving to judgement on July 23, 2024″.

He added, “At this stage, we are barred from making further comments to avoid prejudicing what the court is going to do. We have now canvassed our arguments. We have told the court what we suffered and all that and submitted everything to the court.

“It is now left for the court to look at the issues canvassed by both parties and take final decision.

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“By the time the court gives it’s own judgement, everybody will hear, whether our complaints were established, whether they were genuine or whether they were not”, the lawyer said.

His Majesty, Agu John Ugwuidenyi, the Eze of Obukpa, said, “what made me to be here times without number is because Hon. Nnaemeka Aleke is talking of good of Obukpa. Because, UNN is handling us in a way that is not supposed”.

On whether they would win the case against UNN, he said, “yes, because we are the owner of the land”.

On a general note, he urged the public to “fight for their rights whenever they were being maltreated or pinched”.

Another indigene of the community, Chief Philip Ezeja explained, “What brought us to court was that UNN does not allow us to stay. They don’t give us our entitlement as a host Community. They should give us our normal dues they should pay us, give us water, road and other entitlements due to us so that we can co-exist with them in peace. For example, see how University of Port-harcourt treat it’s host communies, let them treat us so”.

The autonomous community had dragged the university to court over ecological concerns, bordering on alleged environmental degradation due to ongoing construction of multimillion naira hostels by Viagem Property And Investment Limited that allegedly re-channeled flood water into Ajuona Obukpa communities.

It will be recalled that residents of Obukpa Community in university town had raised the alarm over what they described as impending epidemic.

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The residents spoke on the heels of their fears on a leaking sewage at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).

Indigenes of the community, Mr Chisom Ugwu and Chief Christian Odume had in March 2024 told newsmen that a burst sewage had spread its content right into the community, causing discomfort and threatening the health of the people of the area.

The Street Reporters Newspaper recalls that, in solidarity, the Nsukka Democratic Movement (NDM), a coalition civil society groups in Enugu North Senatorial District, otherwise known as Nsukka zone, had strongly queued behind Hon. Nnaemeka Aleke on the environmental degradation suit he filed against the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and Viagem Property and Investment Limited on behalf of his community over environmental degradation in one of the host communities, Ajuona Obukpa, in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State.

In a statement signed by the coalition’s Secretary General, Comrade James Ezema, the NDM had said “the coalition is worried that a project which was intended to solve accommodation for students has created a desaster waiting to happen”, wondering why as a result result of the hostel project, an entire host community is at the brink of being wiped out due to the obstruction of natural water courses and diversion of erosion into the host community and environs.”

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