Imo deaf community protests against demolition 

By Athan Agbakwuru, Owerri

Imo State Association of the Deaf, IMSAD, has staged a peaceful demonstration in Owerri, the capital, against what they termed ‘the unwarranted demolition’ of the Deaf Centre by the Environmental Transformation Task Force, ENTRACO.

The aggrieved demonstrators numbering about 100 drawn from the 27 Local Government Areas of the state stormed Government House, Owerri about 09am after staging a march from the association’s centre at #101 Wetheral Road, in the state capital.

Hope-Uzodinma Imo State Governor

The group marched through the major roads as part of efforts to draw government and public attention to the action of ENTRACO, carrying placards with inscriptions such as; ‘We are the most vulnerable group that have been eexploited and neglected,’  ‘Please Our Daddy, Senator Uzodinma,’ Executive Governor of Imo State have mercy on us,’ ‘Deaf House is our only hope and home’. ‘Governor Give us Certificate of Occupancy,’ among others.

Speaking on the protest, the state chairman of IMSAD, Mr Uzoma Edwards and the General Secretary, Mr Sochineme Madu in a statement presented to Government disclosed that ENTRACO Taskforce had on 06th July, 2022 came to the Deaf House to serve them a ‘Vacate Notice’ within 24hrs.

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According to Uzoma, they went to lodge complaint to the ENTRACO office next day but the managing director was not on seat and they notified on senior staff, Mr Uche Timothy who claimed that the office was unaware of the eviction notice.

He regretted that same day, ENTRACO taskforce  came with policemen wearing facemasks along with the managing director harassing, threatening, intimidating and assaulting the chairman and his members as they appealed to stop the demolition.

His words, “To our shock, the ENTRACO taskforce came with policemen wearing facemasks with the managing director, threatening, intimidating and assaulting us, Mr Uzoma Edwards, the President of Imo State Association of the Deaf, members including women while we made appeal to them to stop further demolishing our Deaf House/shops which we painstakingly built in order to assist and alleviate the sufferings of our less privileged members. Our appeals turned into futility as they kept demolishing Deaf House)shops by the use of force.”

The group recalled that the centre was built and allocated to them by the first civilian governor of Imo, Chief Sam Mbakwe and insisted that they would rather die than allow anybody to demolish their house and displace them.

Uzoma therefore requested Governor Hope Uzodinma to restore the existing centre for them as their last hope for assemblage, worship, meetings, conferences and vocational trainings as well as issue the association a Certificate of Occupancy to forestall further harassment and threat of eviction.

After waiting for about three hours at the gate of Government House, Chief of Staff to the Governor, Barr. Nnamdi Anyaehie addressed the protesters assuring them of government’s intervention to ensure they are not displaced.

Anyaehie commended the association for being peaceful when their building was demolished and during the demonstration assuring them that they governor will receive their complaint and address it favourably.

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