Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State (2nd right)
Fresh news while speaking in a telephone interview with Vanguard Newspaper on Thursday, the Onowu (traditional Prime Minister) of Abagana in Anambra State, High Chief Alfred Onugha, confirmed that four prominent traditional leaders of the Community are currently missing.
The prime minister said further that those allegedly missing after the Police invasion of Abagana community following the land dispute between the people and Ukpo community includes; High Chiefs Amobi Ezekwe, Eugene Anene, Stephen Ezediegwu and Charles Nwazojie.
This was even as police sources said in Awka that the traditional chiefs who were arrested on August 19 in their residences over alleged conduct likely to cause a breach of peace were helping detectives in their investigations over the issue.
The Abagana Welfare Association (AWA) in Anambra State have asked the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, to compel the state Police Commissioner, Samuel Okaula, to immediately release all persons arrested in the wake of the latest round of clashes between the two communities or, in the alternative, charge them to court, adding that some of those arrested in the land dispute were paraded as terrorists while the whereabouts of others including the high chiefs were unknown.
In a petition signed by Counsel to the community’s umbrella union of all the cultural associations, Emma Ifeadike, to the IGP, AWA also, accused the state police command of allegedly taking sides in the said land dispute, pointing out that the activities of the command had increased threats to the peace, law and order in the area.
AWA noted that the Police Commissioner and his subordinates, especially the Area Commander (Awka) ACP Longe, and the Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, in charge of Dunukofia and Njikoka Local Government Areas, laid siege on the Abagana community as they had become pawns on the chessboard of a billionaire and business mogul native of Ukpo community (name withheld).
The community stressed that the land feud between the two communities was before the Court of Appeal in Enugu (in case numbers CA/E/86/2002 and motion CA/110M/2015), adding that despite the pendency of the case, hundreds of thugs were mobilized into the disputed land last June to bulldoze several properties, farmlands and economic trees belonging to members of Abagana community.
According to them, the Ukpo Community had since built a police post on the disputed land, “with illegal police protection…, apparently to frustrate the upcoming appeal court case.”
According to them, “Since August 20, 2016 when the youth of both communities engaged in renewed confrontation, scores of leaders of Abagana community have been arrested in midnight swoops by policemen, with most of them still languishing in detention.
“The mass arrest is believed to be targeted at people close to Chief Emmanuel Nwude, (Owelle Abagana) who is suspected to be financing the court case against Ukpo.
“Curiously, barely 24 after the arrest, Commissioner of Police, COMPOL Samuel Okaula addressed a world press conference where he paraded 10 workers of EM Guest Inn, Abagana, owned by High Chief Emma Nwude, and branded them as terrorists.”