Alleged land grabbing, torture: Oba women sends sos to Obiano, IGP
By Mokwugwo Solomon
Scores of women from Okuzu-Mbana village, Oba, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, yesterday, protested alleged forceful takeover and sale of their farmlands by youths of the community; as well as constant torture and intimidation of their husbands by the said youths.
Armed with placards with different inscriptions, the women took to the streets, chanting songs depicting their displeasure over the development; calling on Governor Willie Obiano, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and other relevant stakeholders to intervene in order to avert possible bloodshed.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “A painter of Garri costs N1,500 presently and some individuals are selling off our farmlands; where then do we cultivate the crops?,” “Okuzu-Mbana women say no to indiscriminate sale of our farmlands, constant torture of our husbands,” “We call on Obiano, IGP to come to our help,” among others.
Speaking to this paper, the Woman Leader of Oba community, home branch, Ngozi Ibeto, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said that the trio of Ukadike Ibeabuchi, Benneth Chibeze and Maduako Emeka were encouraging youths of the village to sell farmlands belonging to different families. The women also accused the youths of constantly torturing their husbands, as a way of intimidating them into silence.
“These youths would sell a piece of land to somebody, and later, they would sell the same land to another person; thereby, causing problems to our community. This scenario, if left unchecked, will also result in a situation where Okuzo-Mbana will not have farmlands again.
“Our husbands, who were the elders of the community had been warning them to stop selling people’s lands; that’s the crime they committed. So, from time to time, the youths would regroup and arrest our husbands, detain them in the bush and torture them; so that they would not talk about the land again.
“We call on Governor Willie Obiano, the IGP and other relevant authorities to come to our help, because, we foresee impending crisis and possible bloodshed, if these youths were not called to order,” she added.
A 72-year-old Godwin Egbochukwu, who also spoke on behalf of the elders allegedly tortured by the youths, said that living in the community was no more safe for some of them who had been kicking against indiscriminate sale of people’s lands by youths.
He said: “The youths were in the habit of selling people’s lands, and we were warning them to stop selling our farmlands, because, their activities have been causing crisis in the community. But instead of listening to our advice, they resorted to beating us.
“Last Monday, (March 30), the youths arrested me alongside Dennis Ejiofor, Stephen Aniemenam, Jeff Okoye and Izuchukwu Olise. They tortured us before our wives and our children, before they took us to the bush, where they detained us for hours before one Ukadike Ibeabuchi came and directed them to leave us; but not without warning us neither to interfere with their activities nor report the matter to the police. These people masterminding sale of our farmlands are from the neighboring Umuezeokpala and Umuezeogbogu villages.”
When contacted, Ukadike Ibeabuchi, one of those accused of backing the youths to sell lands and beat elders, said they were innocent of the allegations levelled against them.
He said: “Personally, I am the General Chairman of Okuzu village; Benneth Chibueze is the Administrative Ichie in the entire Oba community; while Emeka Maduako is aspiring to replace the late Igwe Ezenwa, (who had joined his ancestors) as traditional ruler. How could this class of individuals, who are leaders of the community, encourage youths to sell people’s lands or beat elderly men? Think about that!
“These people casting aspersions on us were sponsored by our opponents. As village chairman, when Okuzu-Mbana wanted to form youth association, I discouraged them. I told them the dangers inherent in forming such association. They formed the group and went ahead to arm them with cutlasses and motorcycles.
“Today, those youths are giving them troubles, and they are calling people who are on their own. Could they mention any body whose land I or any of the prominent names they mentioned sold? Let them continue calling my name; one day, my God will soil their own names.”