By Chioma Ndife A member of staff of Fides Newspaper, Miss Judith Ukachukwu, narrowly escaped serious injury last Wednesday at Jerome Udoji Secretariat Road, Awka after the tricycle she boarded was overturned by revenue touts. I used to hear of how, loosely organized gangs of street children and teenagers called area boys and popularly known as Agbero (in Yoruba dialect) violently extort money from commercial motorist but today it was confirmed, as I am not just an eye witness but also a victim, she said. According to her, she was on her way to work as usual when she boarded a tricycle locally called Keke Napep at Aroma Junction, going to Retreat Centre, Nodu, in the early hours of the day. ‘Just few minutes on transit along Secretariat Road, a man from nowhere stormed the moving tricycle that I was in, dragging it backward with a great momentum and trying to stop the vehicle, but this unfortunately led to its tumbling sideways.The driver and the two passengers, who included me, tumbled alongside with the vehicle. After the accident occurred, the other two victims and I silently thanking God, managed to pull out of the vehicle with the help of passers-by. Shop owners, including passers-by, surrounded the scene and consoled us, just as they reprimanded the tout for losing self-control and therefore endangering people lives. The tout claimed to have caused the said accident as a result of the driver’s refusal to pay the unapproved dues whenever motorists conveyed passengers in the area they inhabited as street boys.

…Accuses IGP of Bias

By Abuchi Onwumelu

No fewer than 700 indigenes of Abba Community, in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, last Tuesday, thronged the entrance gate of the Anambra State House of Assembly, as well as Anambra State Government House, to protest what they described as wanton harassment, intimidation and forceful collection of their land by Ukpo Community through one of her prominent sons.

The protesters, wielding placards of various inscriptions that condemned the situation in their community, as well as the action of the Nigeria Police, called for the intervention of the Anambra State Government.

Speaking on behalf of Abba community, Hon. Obinna Obichukwuma said the community now lived in fear owing to what he described as encroachment of their property by the Ukpo Community through Arthur Eze, noting that as law abiding citizens, they decided to present their case to the appropriate quarters.

Obichukwuma said Abba people were accusing the Nigeria Police of sustained molestation, intimidation, harassment, unlawful arrests and detention of their people in the land dispute, alleging that the Nigeria Police had been compromised by a money bag from Ukpo to carry out what he described as acts of terrorism against their people.

He said they were at the Anambra State Government House to plead with the Government to intervene in their situation and disclosed that Abba Community had vowed to continue their protest until their demands were met, despite what he described as the biased stance of the police.

According to Obichukwuma, the Nigeria Police had been providing protective cover for the people of Ukpo, who, he said, had embarked on the destruction of both the private and public property of the people of Abba.

Obichukwuma noted that the Supreme Court Judgment delivered on 15th February, 2019, had directed parties in the land dispute to go back to the trial court and continue the litigation process due to some irregularities that occurred with the trial court judgment, which the Court of Appeal failed to take into consideration before declaring the case in the favour of Ukpo and Ukwulu Communities.

He called on relevant stakeholders, especially the Anambra State Government, to wade into the crisis and resolve it before it snowballed into full blown communal war, urging the Governor Willie Obiano led administration to put a stop to the encroachment into their land by Ukpo Community.

Addressing the protesters at the Government House, the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, promised to redouble efforts in averting further communal clashes arising from land dispute and also finding solutions to cases of land dispute in the State.

Governor Willie Obiano, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, thanked youths of the community for being law-abiding so far in their travails, assuring that his administration was committed to maintaining the existing peace and security in the state.

He noted that while there were about five to seven committees set up by the State Government to look into issues leading to communal clashes in the state, the white paper of Justice Anigbogu’s Panel on Abba vs Ukwulu/Ukpo land dispute would be looked into for prompt action.

Addressing the protesters at the Anambra State House of Assembly, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Uche Okafor, appreciated the protesters for the way and manner they comported themselves, assuring them that the House would look into their matter and present their resolutions to the executive.

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