From Chuks Moses, Awka
The lack of peaceful co-existence rocking Umunya community in Oyi Council of Anambra state for the past fifteen years appears to have attracted the attention of the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano.
For the second time within the week, some worried citizens of the community stormed the governor’s office in Awka seeking his immediate intervention in what they claimed to be “indiscriminate land sales and arrests of their citizens” on the instigation of some named sons of the community.
A palace chief in the community, Ichie Wilson Ikwuka Obinna (Afunwa), who spoke to journalists during the demonstration Friday at the governor’s office in Awka urged Obiano to bring all the parties to a dialogue. “Because it’s sad that our traditional ruler called them to a discussion to seek peace but (The other group refused”, he claimed.
Revealing a new twist to the matter, Ichie Obinna said that from all indications there was an external hand funding and fueling the crisis with a view to overthrow the occupant of the traditional stool. He described Umunya as peaceful until the other group emerged.
The demonstrators made up of cross section of the citizens and led by the community leaders, traditional/ palace chiefs in their hundreds flooded the governor’s office chanting solidarity songs to their traditional ruler -Igwe Chris Chinedu Onyekwuluje. They were received by the security aide to the governor, Chief Chikodi Anara.
Anara who listened attentively to their grievances appealed to them to remain calm assuring that he will brief Gov Obiano about their concerns.
The people, who came with masquerades, dance troupes, said they were from Odumodu Enu/Ana village of Umunya, and bore placards denouncing a group of youths they described as operating under a name, Odumodu Ebonabo Association.
Secretary of the Odumodu Ana village, Okeke Anyansi said the crisis erupted since year 2000 when some individuals “registered a social club and used the platform to continue unrestrained sale of our communal land.
“We are here to appeal to Gov Obiano to come to our aide. We do not want them again. They have been doing this for past eighteen years and have refused to render any account to us. Instead anyone who challenges them would be intimidated and arrested and locked up over trumped up charges”, he said.
Godwin Nwafor, from Odumodu Enu said, “we are here to alert the state governor on our plight in the hands of some troublesome land speculators in our community. We want them to desist, to avoid further crisis. They had molested, injured and detained most of us at the Umuahia Zonal headquarters of the police, Force headquarters Abuja and state Command headquarters for a dozen times. Most of them have chains of cars and houses without any visible means of income. They have driven us and our families into forced exile”.
A key stakeholder in the community, Dr Chike Obidigbo suggested a round table discussion with all the parties by the community leaders. He denounced the sensationalizing of the matter. He charged the monarch to remain neutral in adjudication of the matter and to also extricate himself in such matters.
He dismissed the allegation of an external influence, pointing out that he was not aware of anyone in Umunya who is interested in unseating Igwe Onyekwuluje.
One of the dramatis personnae whose name has featured prominently in the events, Ekene Okonkwo, declined comments, pointing out that key issues in question was already being addressed.