By Gabriel Chy Alonta
The traditional ruler of Umunya in Oyi local government area of Anambra state, Igwe Chris Chinedum Onyekwuluje, has threatened legal action against some of his subjects who, according to him, had wrongly accused him.
Orient Weekend recalls that some indigenes of Odumodu Enu and Ani, comprising eight villages in Umunya, under the aegis of ‘Odumodu Ebenabo Improvement Union’, Monday, protested to the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano at Government House, Awka, over what they described as the illegal activities of their traditional ruler.
The protesters accused Igwe Onyekwuluje of felony, incessant brutality, destruction of their property, indiscriminate, unauthorised and illegal sale of Odumodu land, among other allegations.
The protesters were seen carrying placards with assorted inscriptions such as, “Our land is our life.” “Finish all of us first before your take our land”, “Igwe Umunya, you are using cultists that you labelled vigilante to hound and intimidate our people. God is watching”, “You are a deceit and a fraud, ‘Leave our Odumodu land alone’, among other unprintable names attributed to the traditional ruler.
Reacting to the weighty allegations, Igwe Onyekwuluje, described the allegations as untrue and a deliberate attempt to malign and tarnish his public image by the miscreants. He vowed to fish out those behind it.
The Igwe, who is also the chairman, Oyi Traditional Rulers Council, further said he was neither marginalising nor selling lands belonging to the community to any person, challenging his accusers to come up with evidence.
“It is not true I sold their land. I never did nor got involved. Those, who are saying this are part of 14 men who went to register a group called ‘Odumodu Ebenabo Improvement Union’, and were selling the properties and lands of Odumedu Enu and Ani.
“On hearing their illegal activities, I stopped them. I have never arrested, or asked the police to do so, neither have I petitioned any one before. They are the ones who are petitioning people they think they can oppress. Mine is just to broker peace among them.
He recalled how the same set of people once threatened to assassinate him, noting that the matter was still open in police records. He stressed that the perpetrators would not go unpunished, even as he added that his lawyer would soon begin the legal prosecution of the subjects involved.
In his reaction, the secretary general of Odumodu, Okwudili Ekene Okeke, said the traditional ruler had been protecting the community, recalling how he saved them when the Nteje, a neighbouring community invaded their lands some time ago. He said it was a collusion by the protesters and just aimed at castigating the royal father.
The president general of Odumodu, Engr. Kenneth Okafor, said the community was ready to back the traditional ruler to take legal action against those behind the evil protest.
Earlier, the secretary of Odumodu Ebenabo Improvement Union, Mr. Sunday Esedo, urged Governor Obiano to urgently call Igwe Onyekwuluje to initiate an immediate measure to restore peace in the community.
Esedo also urged the commissioner of police to order the DPO, Oyi division to respect the dignity and freedom as citizens of the state, while calling for a commission of enquiry to investigate the allegations and events in Umunya.
However, one of the protesters, Chike Chukwuka, from Odumodu-Enu, recalled how he was remanded in Oyi police custody for eight days for no reason, accusing Igwe Onyekwuluje of conniving with the village vigilante to put him and some other villagers in prison. He called on the state government to intervene in the situation, stressing that the community needed unity and peace to advance as a people.
The state governor, Willie Obiano, through his special adviser on security, safety and emergency, Chikodi Anarah, assured that the situation would be urgently dealt with, remarking that peaceful co-existence of a people remained sacrosanct in the state.
By Gabriel Chy Alonta