The cordial relationship existing between the people of Umuokparaku kindred, Umuokpara-Nsu in Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, owners of Ala Uzo Ikpa land and the management of Mbara Ozioma Foundation, MOF, may degenerate into an irreconcilable proportion, unless the stakeholders meet and take urgent steps to redeem the situation.
followed the issuance of a quit notice and demand for damages to the
Board of Trustees, BOT of MOF by the donors over an alleged breach of
contractual agreement. The alleged breach arose from the alleged lack of
implementation of the cardinal covenants contained in the document
releasing the landed property to the MOF.
The Umuokparaku land owners had in the year 2000 donated a parcel of
land measuring approximately 1.204 hectres to MOF whose Chairman is a
Roman Catholic Priest, Rev. Dr. Jude Ozioma Nwachukwu, for building a
skills acquisition centre to be run under the auspices of the Catholic
The cordial relationship between the parties degenerated in December
2013 when the community discovered that the land which they donated to
the Foundation has allegedly been turned into a private family
enterprises by Rev Fr. Ozioma Nwachukwu and his elder brother, Anthony
Nwachukwu. The Nwachukwus, according to the community, claimed in an
online publication that the land was sold outright to them.
Breach of agreement
What added fuel to the alreading burning flame in this predominantly
Catholic community was the reconstitution of MOF’s BOT. An Anglican
Bishop, David Onuoha was allegedly appointed a member of the BOT without
the knowledge, consent or authority of the Catholic Bishop of Okigwe
Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Solomon Amatu.
The alleged infractions forced the community to write to the MOF
through their lawyer, Chris Ajugwe, a legal practitioner based in
Onitsha, Anambra State, demanding restitution and payment of N100
million for breach of contract.
In the letter, addressed to Rev. Fr. Nwachukwu, President/Chairman
BOT of MOF, the land donors claimed that he deceived them by claiming
that the land was being acquired for the purpose of building a skills
acquisition center by MOF which he presented as a charitable institution
exclusively within the Catholic Church.
The donors said they initially refused to donate their land until the
donee presented Rev. Fr. Iheanyi Enwerem, another Catholic priest and a
member of the donors’ kindred. According to them, it was at this
juncture that they were finally persuaded to part with the land.
The donors further claimed that being devout Catholics, they thought
they were doing a religious duty by donating their landed property to a
Catholic Foundation. To be sure that the Foundation would actually be
run by the Roman Catholic Church, the community stated that certain
conditions were spelt outin the Power of Attorney .
Some of these requirements included that the BOT of MOF shall be
constituted to include a nomination by St. Columbus Catholic Parish
Priest, Nsu; St. Charles Catholic Parish Priest, Umunumo; three
representatives from MOF and two representatives of Umuokparaku
They explained that these stipulations were embodied in the agreement
dated January 15, 2014 between the two parties and their
“Regrettably, each time we demanded from you the implementation of the
land deal agreements, you would plead with us to be patient as you were
either on one sabbatical leave or one
religious retreat or the other. To add salt to injury, you published
or caused to be published in May, 2014 on the internet, a false
statement that our land was sold to you outright. We were outraged by
the latest development because on or about October, 2014, you held a
meeting with us at the kindred hall at Umuokparaku where you were
confronted with your online claims”.
As the meeting was inconclusive, it was mutually rescheduled for a
few weeks time, only for us to learn that you have once again proceeded
on your endless sabbatical leave in Austria and now your hide-and-seek
game and that of your Foundation with respect to our landed property is
up. It is obvious from the proceedings that you and your Foundation are
in flagrant and contemptuous breach of contract with respect to our
landed property,” the community said.
MOF which was incorporated on February 13, 2011 has Messrs Anthony
Nwachukwu, Mahakwe H. Obi, Young Nwaohiri and Mr. Benjamin Onyeji as its
trustees. But the community is not comfortable with this composition
because “from all intents and purposes, this is contrary to the
intentment and spirit of your contract with us with respect to the said
“It is unfortunate that this has remained so till date in ungodly
disregard to the agreement of January 15, 2004. This is the sort of
injustice that cries to heaven for vengeance as it at once negates your
priestly calling. We therefore demand that you pay us the sum of N100
million being damages for breach of contract,” the community demanded.
“We also demand that you should within two months from the date of
getting this letter vacate our landed property by removing all your
Foundation’s moveable properties thereon as the land, the building and
all other improvements thereon on the land have automatically reverted
to us by operation of the law,” they claimed. They warned that failure
to comply with the demand, the community will “not hesitate to report to
the security agencies to investigate the criminal aspect of your breach
of trust and fraudulent misrepresentation and this we shall do without
further reference to you”.
The donors contended that even though they signed receipts for
N20,000 per plot of land being Ihe Nkutu Aka N’obi (a token for our
economic trees), it does not amount to outright alienation of the landed
property and cannot detract from the Power of Attorney of 2000 and the
addendum thereto of 2004.
MOF’s counsel disputes claims
Counsel to the donee, Mahakwe Obi in a tacit reply, stated that the
letter portrayed the chairman of the BOT of the Foundation, Rev. Dr.
Ozioma Nwachukwu as an organisation or person who could not keep to the
terms of agreement with the Umuokparaku people. “This is complete
misrepresentation of the true position. Although the Chairman of theBOT
has been coordinating the activities of the body, he has never failed in
his meetings and other commitments concerning the Umuokparaku
community,” he declared.
Insisting that there was no time the BOT did not reflect the interest
of all, especially the Catholics, he claimed that it is not only
Umuokparaku that granted irrevocable Power of Attorney to the Foundation
for building of its projects. “It is important for you to note that the
Foundation acquired every piece of land in the site through Irrevocable
Power of Attorney, coupled with valuable consideration and therefore
erroneous for you to be informed that you granted the lease with
receipts and relevant documents which we can furnish you with when
necessary,” he said.
The Foundation further noted that it has never engaged any other
religious congregation to manage its day-to-day activities, as alleged,
adding that its programmes are presently being formulated to give it
It noted that it was Rev. Fr. Iheanyi Enwerem who advised that the
BOT of the Foundation should reflect the interest of the different
groups that are to benefit from the projects. According to him, it was
based on this advice that the current BOT members were selected to
reflect the following: Howels League Association, Catholic Diocese of
Okigwe, Anglican Diocese of Okigwe South, Nsu Villages, Umunumo, Nzerem
and Agbaja Villages.
The Foundation’s lawyer said: “It is unfortunate that the land donors
made reference to only a portion of the purported agreement of January
15, 2014 without referring to the addendum to the agreement. The
Foundation insisted that the alleged claim by the donors of internet
publication that they sold their land to the foundation is completely
embarrassing to the Foundation. He wants a meeting to be convened to
clarify most of the unfounded claims and falsehood contained in the
Name of our village delected from signpost
But when contacted, a representative of the land owners, Mr.
Celestine Iwundu stated that they would have no option than head to
court if all avenues for peaceful resolution of the impasse fail.
“As I am talking to you now, the Nwachukwus had deleted the name of
our community, Umuokparaku – Umuokpara Nsu from the sign post of the
skills acquisition centre and replaced it with Umuokiri – Umunomu which
is the Rev. Fr. Ozioma Nwachukwu’s kindred. “How can you site a project
in our land in Nsu autonomous community and claim the land belongs to
another community”? he asked rhetorically.