By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The intervention of the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo has been appealed by the Traditional Ruler of Isuaniocha community in Awka North Local Government Area of the State, Igwe Mkpuora Ngini, over what he described as a sponsored attack recently launched on him by some yet-to-be-identified gunmen.
Igwe Ngini made the appeal after a group of hoodlums attacked his convoy and prevented him entry into his community to address his people.
Recounting his ordeal, the monarch who was recently issued certificate of recognition by Governor Soludo, said he wrote to the DSS and they gave him some officers to escort him after the hoodlums first prevented him from entering the community.
“But surprisingly on entering Isuaniocha, the unknown gunmen opened fire on my convoy,” he recounted.
According to him, the two DSS officials attached to his convoy were wounded, one of them abducted, while their Hilux Van was set ablaze. He described the attack as unfortunate, while calling on the State Government to intervene in the security challenge and restore peace to the community.
Igwe Ngini, who insisted that the attack was sponsored, also sought deployment of security operatives to fish out those behind the attack, warning that the hoodlums may extend their lawlessness to other communities if not apprehended and dealt with.
“Government should intervene quickly to get them apprehended and make them to face the law before their activities will move over to Awka and neighbouring communities,” he said
The monarch further called on both natives and residents of the community to remain calm and law abiding in the wake of the development, expressing optimism that government will act towards achieving high level security in Isuaniocha.
Meanwhile, over a hundred members of Isuaniocha community, on Wednesday, stormed the Anambra State Government House in protest, demanding the State Governor, Prof. Soludo to intervene and pay utmost attention to the unresolved crises in the community.
The protesters, comprising the youths, and the aged men and women, including the oldest man in the community, carried placards with various inscriptions as they marched to the gate of the Government House, chanting songs of solidarity while demanding immediate attention and resolution of their grievances.
According to them, their grievances and reasons for the protest range from land grabbing, imposition of traditional ruler, hoodlums invasion and other issues fuelling disunity, crisis and insecurity in the community.
Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “Governor Soludo Please Give Us Peace in Isuaniocha”, Isuaniocha Needs Peace Not War”, “Chikodi Anara Should Steer Clear from Isuaniocha for Peace to Return”, “Chikodi Anara and His Cohorts Like Cosmas Okonkwor, Onyemazi Ngini, Onuora Okoye and Others Have War Machines Terrorising Isuaniocha Community” among others.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, the leader of the protesters and acting President-General of Isuaniocha, Fredric Egwunwa, who recalled that they had held a similar protest few weeks ago, regretted that the state government had failed to keep its promise of setting up a committee to look into the matters that have been fuelling crisis in the community for over eight years now and still counting.
He said “The people totally reject the imposition of a traditional ruler on them by some few individuals who have been selling school lands and committing other atrocious acts in the town.
“Isuaniocha community has a laid down procedure of choosing who their traditional ruler will be and never a time was it done through a kangaroo election. This is fuelling crisis and insecurity in our community, the reason we have come to express our grievances.”
Continuing, he said: “One of the issue that brought us here is about Igweship tussle tearing our community apart; and we the Isuaniocha people say we don’t want that Igweship now; what we want is peace. We have never elected Igwe in the history of Isuaniocha; we have a process of choosing our Igwe, and not by election.
“Besides, the people who elected him is not people’s choice. It was the same people who sold the Community Secondary School Isuaniocha’s land that connived together and imposed Igwe on us so that they will close up their atrocities. But Isuaniocha is saying No to that; we will never accept that.”
Addressing the protesters, the Chief of Staff to Governor Soludo, Mr. Ernest Ezeajughi, assured them that the state government would pay utmost attention to the unresolved crises in their community with a view to ensuring that lasting peace is restored.
Mr. Ezeajughi, who was accompanied by the State’s Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, said the present administration in the State would not relent in ensuring that there is peace in every community in the state.
He further commended the people for having the courage to speak with one voice, adding that the state government will have a roundtable discussion with representatives of the eight villages in the community including their acting President General in order to properly understand the issues ravaging the town and the best way to resolve them, so that a lasting peace will return to the town.
Commenting on the protest, the Commissioner of Police in the State, CP Aderemi Adeoye, who said he got a hint that some persons wanted to pull down the gate of the Government House, said under the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 as amended, individuals and communities were guaranteed freedom of speech, association and that the people had a right to be heard.
He however warned that such right must be exercised in a peaceful way, advising that dialogue and negotiation should be the way to go. The CP further noted that the isues of Igweship and land matters were matters that could be resolved using dialogue mechanism without anyone resorting to violence; even as he advised the people of Isuaniocha and other communities in the State to always embrace peace as the best dispute resolution mechanism.