The main entrance gate of Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara in Delta State’s Ethiope West Local Government Area, was forcefully sealed on Monday morning by some disgruntled members of the host community protesting alleged government encroachment on their communal land, located behind the teaching hospital.
For several hours, the blockade prevented workers and patients from entering or exiting the hospital complex.
The Punch learnt that as early as 8 a.m., protesters, mostly youths and some landlords in the community, had gathered at the main gate of the teaching hospital, carrying various placards and singing solidarity songs in condemnation of the authorities’ alleged takeover of their land without compensation.
One of the protesters who would not want his name in print, while speaking with journalists, stated that “the affected community, by this protest, is only taking proactive measures against the government, over our genuine fear that the authorities may, at the end of the day, renege on the agreed terms for utilising the communal land.”
The source noted that the owners of the landed properties located behind DELSUTH resorted to staging the protest following rumours that the government had already concluded arrangements to move in to commence construction work for a private school.
“So, the landlords held an emergency meeting on Sunday where we resolved on protesting so that government should deem it fit to redeem its pledge to compensate us before taking over our land for the planned nursery school.”
It was, however, noted that the teaching hospital’s main gate was eventually flung open to the public by the protesters at about noon, following appeals by the management of the institution who also called for an emergency dialogue with the stakeholders comprising representatives of the protesting community leaders.
Speaking with Journalists at the end of the closed-door meeting of the teaching hospital management with the aggrieved community leaders, the Public Relations Officer of DELSUTH, Mr. Item Emmanuel, said that “the management is on top of the matter”.
“The State Commissioner for Lands and Survey has been informed about the protest and they are working round to ensure that the agitation is resolved amicably,” he affirmed.