The people of Awba Ofemili community in Awka North local government area of Anambra state have sued for government intervention to resolve the lingering boundary crisis with their neighbour, Ibite-Olo, a community in Eziagu council area, Enugu state.
The dispute, it was alleged had led to loss of lives and property including forcing Awba-Ofemili people to stop farming for over three years.
The Traditional Prime Minister (Onosorueze) of Awba Ofemili, Chief Benard Nwanelo, who made the appeal while reacting to the petition written by some prominent indigenes of the community against their Traditional Ruler, Igwe Ezekwesili Maduagwuna, explained that the community had on several occasions petitioned the state government to rescue them all to no avail.
The prominent indigenes, Chief Solomon Ozuah, Chief Reuben Iloka and Chief Matthew Nwaobu, had in a petition to Anambra State Commissioner of Police written through their Solicitors, G. C. Enekwechi and co. (Grace Chambers) signed by O. E. Nnajiofor, alleged that the monarch among other things intimidate and encroach on people land.
“Our clients complain grievously that the said Igwe Ezekwesili Maduagwuna has been using the vigilante group to terrorise, harass, intimidate, maim and assault members of the community who oppose him. . . laying unlawful claim to people’s lands and claiming same to be a communal land just so he can unlawfully appropriate to himself the power to dispose of those lands.
“The Igwe authorised the forceful extortion of N5000 from youths of Aguenu Awba Ofemili for refusing to participate in the plan orchestrated by the Igwe to ambush and invade Ibite Olo community of Enugu due to a boundary tussle. The youths of Aguenu Awba Ofemili refused to participate in such violence which led the Igwe to penalising every youth of Aguenu Awba Ofemili. A petition dated 8th May, 2018 was made in that regard to your office and a copy of same is herein annexed,” the petition further alleged.
Nwanelo, while dismissing the allegations as untrue, said “No one is intimidating anyone in our community. We did not also banish anyone. Only problem is that some people who lost out in traditional rulership contest with the Igwe have vowed to dethrone him using frivolous allegations and petitions. We won’t allow that to happen. Our monarch is peace loving and had never involved in any land dispute with his subjects. There had never been any mayhem of such in Awba Ofemili as quoted in the petition.”
He, however, expressed displeasure over alleged conspiracy of some people from the community with Ibite Olo people in the disputed land, and urged the state and federal government to expedite action towards resolving the boundary issue amicably.
When contacted, Anambra state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, disclosed that the state government had been on the boundary matter for a while, adding, “We are now waiting for the National Boundary Commission to delineate the boundary.”