By Ikeugonna Eleke
The people of Umuduayika and Atiko Kindred of Iruayika Village, Awkuzu in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, have petitioned the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, asking for protection from irate youths in the community.
A copy of the petition by their counsel, Mr. C.C. Onubogu, which was made available to Fides in Awka, stated that one person had been murdered, and property worth millions of Naira, destroyed by youths over a land tussle in the community.
The petition accused some youths in the community of attempt to forcefully take over the management of a communal land in the community without authorization from the community elders, leading to their attack on the elders.
Part of the petition read, ‘The lands in question are Nkpukpo, Nchalla and Amanakwe, situated at Iruayika Village in Awkuzu.
‘Sometime in May, 2020, some ill-advised, misinformed and dissident youths of Iruayika Village attempted to take over the management of the Nkpukpo, Nchalla and Amanakwe lands. Their aim was to parcel the lands, re-allocate some to themselves and then sell. These youths began threatening violence, mayhem and even death, on anyone who tried to stop them.
‘Following the threats, the stakeholders wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Police Command, asking for the intervention of the Police to forestall breach of the peace in the community and loss of lives. It was only after the intervention of the Police that peace and normalcy were restored to the village.’
The petitioners lamented that the youths had again begun a fresh round of violence, property destroyed, while one person had so far been killed.
‘In the early hours of the 3rd day of January, 2021, they visited the residence of one Mr. Ifeanyi Okonkwo, a stakeholder and killed him.
‘They also destroyed the house of Prince Alex Ezebilo, another stakeholder and set ablaze his ML Mercedes Jeep, his soundproof generator, as well as two other generators.
‘We therefore humbly urge you to use your good offices to safeguard the life and property of members of lruayika Village, and carry out a proper investigation into the murder and criminal activities,’ the elders pleaded.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga, said he was not aware of the Awkuzu crisis, promising, however, to give details if he received information on the matter.
The chairman of the village, Mr. Ogugua Nweke; the secretary, Prince Francis Nweke, and another stakeholder, Prince Alex Ezebuilo, in a statement said their worry was that all the people arrested in connection with the crisis in the community were released unceremoniously and urged the police to carry out proper investigation into the matter.
‘With the release of these suspects, our village is no longer safe. Most of our people have fled and are hiding outside the village, while the suspects who were released by the police are roaming the streets and bragging that nothing will happen to them,’ they said.