By Jude Atupulazi
The Anambra State Government is to pay utmost attention to the unresolved crises in Isuaniocha Community of Awka North Local Government Area, the Chief of Staff to the Government, Mr Ernest Ezeajughi, has assured.
This, he said was to ensure that lasting peace was restored in the community which has been enmeshed in crises for more than eight years.
Ezeajuyi stated this when over one thousand residents of Isuaniocha again carried a peaceful protest to the government over some issues bringing disunity and insecurity in the town.
Youths, aged men and women, including the oldest man in the community, carried placards with various inscriptions as they marched to the gate of the Anambra State Government House, chanting songs of solidarity while demanding that the governor, Chukwuma Soludo, give them immediate attention by resolving their grievances.
Addressing the people, the Chief of Staff who was accompanied by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr Tony-Collins Nwabunwanne, said the Administration of Professor Soludo would not relent in restoring peace in Isuaniocha and by extension, every community in the state.
Ezeajuyi who commended the people for having the courage to speak with one voice, told the people that the government would have a round table discussion with representatives of the eight villages of the community, including their acting President General, to understand the issues ravaging the town.
According to him, the present administration had recovered several lands belonging to secondary schools across the state and so would immediately look into that of Isuaniocha Secondary School land which was one of the contending issues causing problems in the area.
On the issue of the certificate of recognition issued to Chief Mkpuora Ngini as the traditional ruler of the community, Mr Ezeajuyi said Governor Soludo would look into the demands of the people and give them feedback as soon as possible.
‘We’ve heard your concerns and also read it on your placards; we heard all what you said, and to summarise are two major things: the land that people have taken in the secondary school and the issue of Igweship, so Mr Governor will look into your two main critical cases and come back to you,’ the Chief of Staff stated.
Earlier, the leader of the protesters and Acting President General of Isuaniocha, Mr Frederick Egwunwa, regretted that the government failed to keep their promise that a committee would be set up to look into the matter during the last protest by the people; reason, he said, prompted them to block the entrance gate of the government house so that proper attention would be giving to the disappointed residents.
Mr Egwunwa said Isuaniocha Community had a laid down procedure of choosing who their traditional ruler would be and never a time was it done through what they termed a kangaroo election.
According to him, the people totally rejected the imposition of a traditional ruler on them by few individuals who, he alleged, were responsible for the sale of the school land and other atrocious acts in the town.
‘The issue that brought us here is about Igweship and Isuaniocha says we don’t need that Igweship now. What we want is peace. We have never elected Igwe in the History of Isuaniocha; we have a process of choosing our Igwe, not by election. And the people that elected him are not people’s choice. It is the same people that sold the Community Secondary School land, that connived together and imposed an Igwe upon us so that they will close up their atrocities, but Isuaniocha is saying no to that, we will never accept that,’ Egwunwa said.
In an interview, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State, Mr Aderemi Adeoye, who said he got a hint that some persons wanted to pull down the gate of the government house, said under the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, as amended, individuals and communities were guaranteed freedom of speech and association and that the people had a right to be heard.
Mr Adeoye however said such grievances must be aired in a peaceful manner while dialogue and negotiation should be the way to go and so must be embraced by all communities, including Isuaniocha.
He noted that the issues of Igweship and land matters were matters that could be resolved, using dialogue mechanism without anyone resorting to violence.
Fides reports that some of the placards carried by the people of Isuaniocha read, “Governor Soludo, please give us peace in Isuaniocha”; ”Isuaniocha needs peace, not War”; ”Chikodi Anara should steer clear from Isuaniocha for Peace to return”; ”Chikodi Anara and his cohorts like Cosmas Okonkwor, Onyemazi Ngini, Onuora Okoye and others have war machines terrorizing Isuaniocha Community”, among other write ups.