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Igweship tussle: Enugu community leaders allege threat to life

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The crisis over which village in Abiaha would produce the occupant of the Igweship stool of the newly-established Imeama-Umuabi Autonomous Community in Udi local council of Enugu State got messier yesterday as leaders of Umuezenchi village cried out over alleged threats to their lives.

The Umuezenchi village leaders alleged that their lives have been under serious threats from certain members of the autonomous community for taking the contention over the occupant of the stool to the Enugu State High Court.

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Since the community was accorded recognition this year as an autonomous community, the crisis was said to have erupted over attempts by certain prominent persons of the area to relegate seniority, which had been the basis for rotation of the chieftaincy stool of the area.

It was gathered that some influential and wealthy persons from the autonomous community made serious moves to thwart the established order by trying to deny Umuezenchi, which is the eldest village in Abiaha, the opportunity to produce the occupant of the seat.

Sources said the community had always used seniority in the distribution of offices.

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Perturbed by the development, leaders of the Umuezenchi village, who believe that they should produce the traditional ruler being the most senior village, took the matter to court.

In an open letter signed by their lawyer, Mr C. C. Okoro, they alleged that the lives of Chief James Eze, Chief Harrison Aneke, and Ichie Enwolumike Emmanuel Agu have been under threat since they took the matter to court on behalf of Umuezenchi village, calling on Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to intervene.

The letter reads in part: “Since the institution of the said lawsuit, our clients have been receiving series of threats from people of their community both within and outside Enugu State. We have already made formal reports to relevant security agencies in order to ensure the safety of the lives and property of our clients.

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“Our clients did not commit any offence by exploring a legal solution to their grievances neither have they committed any sacrilege against the gods of Imeama-Umuabi land. On the contrary, it is those people who reneged on the earlier agreement and desecrated the age-long tradition of seniority as a basis for sharing things in the community that deserved to be reprimanded and not our clients who are fighting a just cause through a non-violent means.

“We, therefore, urge all those individuals who are being sponsored to harass our clients by threatening their lives to desist forthwith as the long arms of the law will sooner than later catch up with them and their sponsors. A word is enough for the wise.”

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