By Nwabueze Okonkwo – Onitsha
The police in Anambra state have averted what could have degenerated into a bloody battle between those said to be loyal to the traditional ruler of Enugwu-Agidi community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra state, Okpallariam Mike Okekeuche and Chairman of Ezinato Clan, Izuchukwu Okeke-Onyeocha (Igwe Ezinato).
This followed a timely intervention of the Divisional Police Officer, DPO at Abagana Police Division in the council area,, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Matthew Okafor
The supporters of Okpallariam Okekeuche, according to Okeke-Onyeocha, had allegedly swooped on some of his own supporters, launched physical attack on them and injured some of them before dispossessing them of their motorcycles which he gave to them as an empowerment.
He alleged that the attack on his supporters was aimed at forcing them to withdraw their loyalty to him.
Okeke-Onyeocha further said all efforts to recover the seized motorcycles from the loyalists of the traditional ruler proved abortive until the timely intervention of CSP Okafor who ordered that the seized items be brought to the police station from where they were released to the rightful owners.
Confirming the incident, CSP Okafor who declined further comments on the matter which he said was still under investigation, disclosed that he ordered both parties to bring all the seized property to the police station and when they complied, he released them to their owners and cautioned them to avoid anything capable of undermining the security in the area.
However, the traditional ruler, Okekeuche had among others, accused Okeke Onyeocha of highhandedness, queer character, lack of respect for constituted authority and above all, indulging in land grabbing.
Okekeuche, who summarised the situation in the town as being totally bad, noted that fear, anxiety and high level of insecurity have enveloped the town, adding that Onyeocha as one of his subjects, had for no justifiable reasons, decided to make the community ungovernable for him and the town union leadership.
The monarch accused him of allegedly selling lands belonging to the community and also did not obey rules and regulations guiding the community especially on land sales.
He further alleged that Onyeocha mobilized some youths from within and outside the community to attack anybody who opposed his tyranny.
According to the monarch, Okeke Onyeocha had sold about 2,000 plots of land belonging to the community without rendering accounts to the community, adding that he also crowned himself the king of the town and that anyone who failed to recognize him as such would be beaten up.
But speaking to newsmen on the matter at his home town, Enugwu Agidi, Okeke Onyeocha described all the allegations levelled against him by the monarch as baseless, saying that as the Igwe of Ezinato clan, he remained a man of peace under the authority of Igwe Okekeuche, and that he was only fighting for justice and fairness in the community.
According to Okeke Onyeocha, “it was because of my efforts to empower the youths of this community, which endeared them to me, that the monarch and his supporters have made all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations against me.”
Flanked by Ichie Alex Anietona, a former member of the monarch’s cabinet; Chief Nelson Nduka Udeozo, one of the village chairmen in the area and Chiedu Nwankwo, a youth leader, Okeke Onyeocha further declared: “I did not do anything bad to our traditional ruler, Okekeuche. I attend all his functions with gifts and he even recognized me as Igwe Ezinato but he is begrudging me out of envy for looking after lands in Enugwu Agidi.
“My own grudge against him is that he dragged me to a Sharia Court in Abuja with all sorts of frivolous allegations with intent to get me hanged or imprisoned for life but because my hands are clean, I wriggled out of the case.
“I have never sold anybody’s land illegally as they accused me of. Our elders are trying their best to make peace but he seems not to adhere to the peace moves.
“Another problem he has is that he always tries to do everything without allowing division of labour. Since he was given the Igweship certificate in 2017, our town has never known peace and I am calling on the state government to call him to order because our community is boiling because of his activities”.
In their separate statements, Anietona, Udeozo and Nwankwo recalled that while the monarch was being given a chieftaincy certificate as Okpallariam III of Enugwu Agidi, the state government officials and some traditional rulers who were present advised him to go home and make peace in the community, as father of all.
But till date, he has refused to embrace that peace, even after Enugwu Agidi Elders Council and Enugwu Agidi Ruling Age Grade (Ulonabo) and Irunnebo Village mediated and tried to reach a truce.