By Emeka Mamah & Chinenye Ozor
NSUKKA—The panel set up by the Enugu State government to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the slavery crises rocking the Alor Uno community in Nsukka Local Government Area of the state was yesterday welcomed with placards by about 2,000 people from Ugbene in the area who asked the state government to approve an autonomous community for them.
The matter in the area reached a peak about three months ago, when the Ugbene people claimed that some of their relations were attacked for passing through a track road meant for the so-called free born in the community and urged the state government to save them from the hands of their alleged tormentors.
The placard carrying members of Ugbene included the youths as well as old men and women, who chanted solidarity songs even as they lamented that they were being discriminated against by the Ejuona people, who they alleged controlled political power.
Some of the placards read, “We are being discriminated against by the Ejuona lords who say we are slaves,” “We are attacked on the roads; in our houses for nothing,” “Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwanyi, save us from destruction by granting us autonomy,” “We are meant to be seen and not heard in our own home and community,” “In Alor Uno, Ugbene people are not allowed to pass through the same road or buy from the same market with the Ejuonas who have the councillor representing our area, the traditional ruler, the member representing Alor Uno in the state House of Assembly among other positions.
“Governor Ugwanyi, save us from oppression by giving us our own community so that we can govern ourselves,” among others.
However, addressing the protesters, the Chairman of the committee, Mrs Sylvia Onwuemelie who led her members to Alor Uno said that they were in the troubled community to see how the problem could be amicably resolved.
Onwuemelie who addressed a large crowd of the people of the area at Alor Uno Community Secondary School, Nsukka, amid tight security lamented over the crises, adding that they would visit everybody who was either injured or had his or her house, vehicle or property destroyed following the crises.
According to Onwuemelie, the committee was composed of eminent sons and daughters of Enugu State who were either retired or serving civil servants who would not dent their name for anything.
“We have read all your memoranda. We are here to see the people who were said to have been wounded or the houses and vehicles which were destroyed. If you were macheted and you have treated yourself. The scares will still be there. We are surprised with the large turnout. Send your representatives to talk to us at Nsukka Local Government Secretariat where we will sit after this fact finding tour,” she added.
There were, however, some skirmishes at Afor Alor Uno Market, when some youths were told that the members were taken to a house owned by Mr Euphrem Attama alias Akpaka, who allegedly claimed falsely that his house was destroyed during the crises in the community but some elders reportedly prevailed on them to maintain the peace as a sign of respect for the panel members.