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Anambra women protest police harassment of monarch, non-access to farmlands, killings

* We feel your pain; we will work to quickly resolve the issue, says LG Commissioner

 
From IFEOMA OKAFOR, Awka 

Aggrieved women of Awba Ofemili, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State have kicked against alleged police harassment of their traditional ruler, Igwe Ezekwesili Maduagwuna.

They also lamented the continued boundary skirmishes between their community and Ibite Ollo, a neighbouring town in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

The over 100 women, who stormed the Agu-Awka Government House to register their grievances, carrying placards, said they could no longer stomach the happenings in the area, lamenting that they were being denied their means of livelihood as farmers. 

AbeyaNews gathered that one person recently lost his life in the boundary clash while five people from the community were still being detained in a correctional centre in Enugu State as at the time of this report.

Spokesperson for the women, Mrs. Grace Nwabufor said: “We decided to come to the Government House because the issue was getting out of hand. As farmers, we are being denied our source of livelihood as security operatives from Enugu State often chase us away from our farms.

“We are overwhelmed by what we are experiencing in our community. For the past four years, we have not known peace because of the land dispute between us and Ibite Ollo in Enugu State.

“Deputy Governors of the two States who are in charge of their boundary commissions decided that we should continue to farm on our end until a proper demarcation of the boundaries of the two States was done but we are chased away anytime we go to our farms.

“Sometime this year, while we were in the farm, they came with guns and in their attempt to chase us out, killed one person; since then, the entire community, including our traditional ruler, is being harassed by police from Enugu State such that the Monarch has gone into hiding.

“That is why we have come to complain to Governor Willie Obiano to come to our rescue before our neighbours wipe us out. Since Enugu State government is on the side of our neighbours on this matter, we expect our Governor to also support us. Our Governor should help us by ensuring the release of our children who are being detained in correctional centres in Enugu over the boundary issue.

“Because of this crisis, we can no longer feed ourselves as we cannot enter our farm lands. After both communities were asked to farm on their sides, our Ibite Ollo neighbours chased us out of our farms and wounded many people in the process.”

Some of the placards carried by the women read: “Awba Ofemili cannot succumb to intimidation”. “Our Monarch has no hand in any killing”. “Anambra government please save us from our neighbours”. “Release our children being detained in Enugu”. “Some people in our community are enemies of the people”, etc.

Addressing the women on behalf of the State government, Mr. Henry Nwasike from the office of the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters hailed them for being peaceful.

He said the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters had directed him to assure them that their complaints would get the Governor’s attention. 

“It is difficult for any community to endure what you have been passing through and the State government is happy that you did not take the laws into your hands; you did the right thing by coming to complain to the Governor himself,” Nwasike said.

“We assure you that government will look into the issues raised without delay as it is not fair that one should not enjoy peace in his or her home.”

“Your traditional ruler should enjoy peace in his domain and not for him to face a situation whereby he is forced to go into hiding over an unfounded allegation.

“Because of the seriousness of this issue, government will not delay in stepping into the matter by looking into the issue of those being detained with a view to setting them free.”

Nwasike said the governments of Enugu and Anambra States would properly demarcate the boundaries of the two States to ensure that lasting peace reigned in the area. 

According to him, the exercise would be undertaken by the Deputy Governors of the two States who are in charge of boundary commissions in their respective States.

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