Land dispute: Enugu monarch rues detention of four subjects for three months
The traditional ruler of Ikem community in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe, Amb. Francis Okwor, has called on Governor Sullivan Chime to intervene in the festering land dispute between the community and its Neke neighbours to forestall escalation of the crisis.
Igwe Okwor, who addressed journalists in Enugu on Wednesday, equally condemned the prolonged incaceration of four of his subjects owing to a violent clash between the communities over two months ago.
He, therefore, pleaded with Governor Chime to do everything within his power to see that peace returned to the neighbouring communities.
The traditional ruler accused the chairman of the Local Government, Hon. Augustine Nnamani, an indigene of Neke, of fueling the boundary dispute.
He expressed concern that the council chairman instigated his people to go to court over the land, even after the state government had painstakingly demarcated the boundary between the two communities.
The royal father traced the land dispute between the two communities to as far back as 1952.
According to him, “Neke community encroached on their land in 1952 and when Ikem people sought that the land be demarcated, Uzo Agu Town Association, an umbrella organisation that bounds the five communities of the Area, Ikem, Neke, Umualor, Eha Amufu and Mbu insisted that land should not be demarcated among brothers; Ikem people agreed with a proviso that Neke people should not go beyond Ngene Ikwe, a stream, to come to Ikem”.
The two communities, the traditional ruler explained continued to live like brothers without official demarcation until 1976 when a secondary school was built in Ikem known as Ikem Secondary School, Ikem.
He said the people of Neke recently rose up and said the school should no longer be called as Ikem Secondary School but Ikem-Neke Secondary School.
He added that “the people of Ikem relunctanly agreed to avoid blood shed and would have left it at that had not some Neke people started building on the land adjacent to the school premises claiming that the school is not the boundary instead of a place called Ugwu Okwunene.
“Due to the continued encroachment and the erecting of buildings on Ikem land adjacent to the school premises, some people in Ikem rose up and were attacked by Neke people who inflicted machete cuts on five people.
“As if that was not enough, during the fracas that ensued, one Neke man died and Neke people claimed that it was Ikem people that killed him and thus four people have been held in police detention for more than two months now”.
He expressed further disappointment that “five of our people were taken to the hospital because of machete cuts injury inflicted on them by Neke people.
“Luckily, none of them died, but one Neke man died somewhere and they said it was Ikem people that killed the man and for this reason, they are charging them for murder”.
He gave the names of those in detention as Alfred Nshi, Louisa Odo, (a woman), Okwudili Nnamani and Lazarus Eze.
Igwe Okwor said that the state government asked the council chairman, Hon. Augustine Nnamani to build a concrete beacon around the Ugwu Okwunene to stop the encroaching of Neke to the school premises, but that the council boss failed to comply.
When contacted to speak on the development and the allegations levelled against him over the communal clash and the court case, the council chairman, who refused to pick calls put across to him, sent a text message.
The text sent to him after several calls read, “Sir, there is an allegation that you are fueling communal land dispute between Ikem and Neke. Would you like to react?”
To this, Hon. Nnamani replied: “it is a frame up please”.
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