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Environmental degradation: Nsukka community protests against UNN, monarch

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By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu

The people of Obukpa in Nsukka local government area of Enugu state are unrelenting in their push for a compensation from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Obukpa is one of the host communities of UNN.

Despite a letter from the traditional ruler of the community as well as the town Union disowning a N100m suit filed against the UNN over alleged environmental degradation, a large number of the indigenes say there was no shifting of ground.

To draw home their point, they took to the streets in their numbers, asking the monarch to withdraw his opposing letter. 

Orient Daily reports that soon after the suit was filed by a member of the community, Nnameke Aleke, the traditional ruler of Ajuona Obukpa autonomous community, Igwe Mathias Ezea, wrote a letter to the UNN, wherein he distanced himself and the community from the court action.

The protest in solidarity with Aleke, is a counter to the action of the traditional ruler.

During the protest, the youths warned those they described as “saboteurs” to desist from further actions capable of thwarting efforts being made to remedy their environment from the menace of flood and erosion.

A human rights activist, Obiora Omeje, who said he volunteered to organise the protest to ensure peace and order, said the community had suffered so much wreckage from the devastating flood.

Omeje equally maintained that the Obukpa community, as one of the peaceful hosts to the first indigenous University in Nigeria, deserved other corporate social responsibilities other than the degradation they have been suffering over the years.

Also speaking, the youth leader of Ejuona Obukpa community, Michael Ugwu, while asking those who wrote the counter letter to UNN, including the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Ezea, to withdraw it with immediate effect, alleged that some of the signatories to the letter were forged.

He also said, “This protest is all about registering our disappointment with the bad leaders in Ajuona Obukpa. One of our brothers sued UNN because the flood from the institution is damaging our properties and endangering our lives and some saboteurs from the community wrote a counter letter to the university, distancing the community and themselves from the suit.

“The traditional ruler, the Town Union President, Fabian Ozioko, and one Sunday Asadu, impersonating to be a youth leader of the community wrote the counter letter and we are not happy about it. The legal adviser to the traditional ruler, Barr. Paully Eze is equally one of those that wrote the counter letter.

“The community is not in support of the counter letter and want them to withdraw it immediately. The youths of Obukpa are in total support of the suit by Aleke, demanding that UNN settle the community for the damages they have incurred from flooding and erosion.

“The saboteurs equally forged the signature of the spiritual head of the Umu Esege clan who is the oldest man in Obukpa as being part of the counter letter. The spiritual leader has washed off his hands from anything relating to the counter letter.”

Also, another community member, Ekene Ugwuanyi, who spoke during the protest, said the community was tired of the “promise and fail,” antics of UNN in addressing the issue of environmental degradation in the community.

He equally said that the youths of the community would continue to protest until their demands were met by UNN, adding that the case of forgery by the saboteurs would be tackled squarely.

The visibly angry protesters, with placards inscribed, “UNN, even common roads for your host community; UNN, our homes have been destroyed by flood from your campus. Enough is enough; Obukpa is not an erosion diversion zone. Fix our roads,” among others, marched to the residence of the Ajuona traditional ruler. However, his gate was under lock and key.

Addressing the protesters at his palace, the traditional ruler of Owerre Obukpa, HRH, Igwe Evaristus Eze told the youths that they were fighting a just cause.

The monarch, who equally advised the youths to be peaceful during the protest, told them not to be bothered about the counter letter, assuring them that the community had assembled a team of lawyers to take care of it.

When reached, the town union president, Ozioko, refused to comment on the counter letter on the ground that he was driving.

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