By Festus Ahon & Ochuko Akuopha, UGHELLI
PRESIDENT GENERAL of Ughelli Descendants Union, UDU, Worldwide, Chief Pius Omubaye, has frowned at allegation by members of the Cow, Goat and Pig Butchers Associations that the Ovie of Ughelli, HRM Wilson Oharisi lll, asked members of the union to pay ‘ground levy’ to him before they could operate in the area.
Omubaye stated this while reacting to a one-day strike action by members of the associations who accused the monarch of asking them to pay N3,000 and N2,500 for every cow, goat and other animals butchered in the market.
Describing the allegation as a false alarm aimed at intentionally painting the revered Ughelli stool in a bad light, he told members and leadership of the associations to tender an unreserved apology to the monarch and his people.
He said,: “When we came into power, we tried to see how we could generate funds to run the union and develop the kingdom through corporate social responsibilities. And we decided to meet the butchers who are collecting ground rents from cow, pig and goat customers.
“They Collect various types of money in the name of ground, rope and ladder levies. And we invited them for a meeting to let them know that we are the ground owners and that part of these moneys should be giving to us. And when it got to a critical position, we decided to meet HRM Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom to intervene and after several meetings.
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“Initially they were collecting ground money N2,500 per cow, N1,000 per goat and N1,000 per pig. But after the final meeting, HRM decided that because of the economic situation they should bring the money down from N2,500 to N500 for cow and from N1,000 to N250 for goat and pig.
“The emphasis here is that this ground money is not part of the money they pay to buy these animals. It is the buyers that pay the ground money and so we the ground owners said give us a small fraction and they are saying no. Instead, they have gone haywire to the press to protest with a campaign of calumny against the Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom.
“HRM is not taking any money from anybody or the buyers, it is for the UDU and the Development of the Kingdom. This protest is Ill motivated and they have evil intention to destroy the image of the Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom.
“So, we demand an unreserved writing apology and retraction of whatever misinformation they have given to the press or public from the Ughelli Butchers Association to his HRM and the UDU for trying to drag his name to the mud.”