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Umunya land crisis: Obiano wades in as community storm government house again

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Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano

The land crisis rocking Umunya community in Oyi Local Council of Anambra State for the past fifteen years seems to have attracted attention of the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano.

For the second time in a week, some worried members 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 indigenes” on the instigation of some named sons of the community.

A palace Chief from the community, Ichie Wilson Ikwuka Obinna (Afunwa), who spoke to journalists during the demonstration yesterday in Awka, urged Obiano to bring all the parties to a dialogue table.

Revealing a new twist to the matter, Ichie Obinna, who described Umunya as peaceful until the Ekene Okonkwo group emerged, alleged that an external hand is funding and fueling the crisis with a view to overthrow the traditional stool.

The demonstrators, who were led by the community leaders and palace chiefs, stormed the governor’s Office yesterday, chanting solidarity songs in support of their traditional ruler -Igwe Chris Chinedu Onyekwuluje. The security aide to the governor, Chief Chikodi Anara, received them.

Anara, who listened attentively to their grievances, appealed to them to remain calm assuring that he will brief Gov. Obiano about their concerns.

The group from Odumodu Enu/Ana village of Umunya, which came with masquerades and dance troupes also bore placards denouncing a group of youths they alleged were operating under Odumodu Ebonabo Association led by one Ekene Okonkwo.

Secretary of the Odumodu Ana village, Okeke Anyansi, said the crisis erupted since year 2000 when Ekene Okonkwo and other named individuals registered a social club and used the platform to continue unrestrained sale of communal land.

“We are here to appeal to Gov Obiano to come to our aide; we don’t 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, arrested and locked up over trumped up charges.”

According to Godwin Nwafor, another member of Odumodu Enu, “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, 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 our families into forced exile,” he said.

A key stakeholder in the community and an All Progressives Congress governorship aspirant in the state Dr Chike Obidigbo, who cautioned against sensationalising of the matter, suggested a round table discussion with all the parties by the community leaders. He charged the monarch to remain neutral in adjudication of the matter and to also extricate himself in such matters.

He, however, 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.

Ekene Okonkwo on his part declined comments, pointing out that key issues in question are already being addressed.


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