By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
The embattled people of Abba community in Njikoka local government area of Anambra State, which has been in a protracted land tussle with their neighboring Ukpo community yesterday, stormed the Government House, Awka and accused the state government of encouraging them to take the laws into their hands by its continued silence on the happenings between the two communities.
The over 50 years of land dispute came to a climax recently when bulldozers demolished the homes of some prominent Abba people and walls of the only secondary school in the community.
Leading hundreds of people, including women and youths, the spokesman of Abba Community, Chief Obi Chukwuma said the situation in the area had come to a point that it was difficult for Abba people to go to the neighboring markets to purchase something, as they stood the risk of being arrested simply because they were indigenes of Abba.
Waving placards with various inscriptions, Chukwuma said: “We have reported several to the police, but there is no respite for our people. The question we keep asking is, what has Abba done that another community would want to see the people extinguish from the surface of the earth?
According to him, “This matter was determined by the Supreme Court in 2009 which referred the suit back to the State High Court because the records of the case handled by the late Justice Obiorah Nwazota could not be found. To quote the Supreme Court, ‘the parties in this suit should go back to the High Court to sort out the judicial mess.’
“But our neighbors interpreted the judgment to suit them and have been intimidating us. All these while, we had written to all the agencies of government, including the presidency, the Police Service Commission, DSS, National Human Rights Commission, and an uncountable number of petitions to the Anambra State government, yet nobody came to our rescue.
“All our farmlands have been taken over, our market was demolished and as we speak, structures are being erected on the demolished market. Last week, buildings that were erected over 30 years ago were also demolished and our fear is that after demolishing our buildings, they will come after our lives.
“We, therefore, want the state government to come to our rescue. We are a law-abiding community and that is why there had not been any incidence of bloodshed since the land tussle began, unlike what is happening in other communities in the state.
“What we want is that they should allow the courts to decide on this matter and we promise to abide by whatever decision the court takes”.
Secretary to the Anambra State Government, SSG, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, who addressed the protesters on behalf of the state government commend Abba people for being peaceful, assuring that the matter would ultimately be settled.
“We do not want our people to die because of the land tussle. Our expectation is that Abba and Ukpo would eventually discuss the matter and settle it amicably. We are already discussing with some people in your community over this matter to see how the government would implement the Justice Anigbogu panel that looked into the Abba-Ukpo land dispute,” the SSG said.