Monday, 5 September 2016

Blood Flows in Anambra As a Monarch Reportedly Pockets Money Realised from Selling of Lands

…Youths at Dagger Drawn, Some Matcheted, Houses Destroyed,

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

The once peaceful Ezira community in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra may soon resolve to inter-communal war if nothing urgent is done to calm the lingering land sale crisis rocking the agrarian community.

A total of 866 plots of lands was allegedly sold to a wealthy farmer by the Traditional Ruler of the Community, Igwe Samuel Uche in an agreement with the committee overseen the controversial sold land, and the land owners, four kindred in Ubaha Ezira namely Umuezenobe, Umuezeatukoba, Umuezeakucha, and Umuezanusi referred to as Ngodo Ubaha village. reliably gathered that the buyer of the land also, offered the sum of one million naira and a goat to youth of Ngodo Ubaha as customarily demanded from him but the Monarch’s alleged delay in remitting the complete proceeds, and the land’s Committee Chairman’s refusal to account for it degenerated to communal crises in which multimillion naira properties and persons were destroyed from both parties.

That was even as Igwe Uche and his supporters (mostly the youths)contradicted themselves on the plots of the lands been sold and agreement reached; as they (the youths) claimed ignorant of the whole thing, while the Igwe admitted of attracting the buyer but denied ever playing a role in the whole process.

Investigation shows that the impasse went bloody on Wednesday, 3rd August, 2016 when some armed hoodlums allegedly invaded the compound of their leader, Mr. Jude Umunnakwe; vandalized his personal properties including houses, a car and motorcycle after which they made away with about N1, 800, 000. 00 (One Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira Only), which he was saving for an undisclosed friend.

Located closer to a boundary between Ezira and Umucheke village in Umunze, the headquarters of Orumba South LGA, the disputed 866 plots reportedly cost N60, 800,000.00 (sixty million, six hundred thousand naira only).

According to Mr. Umunnakwe, who is the Assistant National Secretary of Ezira Improvement Union (EIU), and Chairman, Ubaha Progressive Union (UPU), and leader of the committee in charge of the said communal lands, although it was duly sold and completely paid for around August 2015, their Traditional Ruler, Igwe Samuel Uche (Ezedioranma II of Ezira), who did not only contracted his friend (the buyer) but also provided the bank account in which the agreed sum was allegedly deposited was yet to remit all to them, the owners.

He further accused the Monarch of unlawfully and secretly supplying a personal account detail to the buyer rather than making use of their official Ngodo-Ubaha bank account detail they earlier supplied to him.

Similarly, Umunnakwe alleged that when they demanded for the proceeds from the sold land, the Igwe who is not from their kindred transferred into the village account, the sum of N37, 500, 000.00 (Thirty Seven Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira only) instead, and refused to balance them the remaining N23, 300, 000.00 (Twenty Three Million, Three Hundred Thousand Naira, only).

On a further persistent to retrieve the remaining funds, Umunnakwe claimed that the Traditional threatened his life with thugs, from within and outside their kindred, and it was some of these alleged ruffians, who had been summoning him (Umunnakwe) to account for the little sum Igwe remitted but he implored them to wait till end of this month when they would expectedly be around for home and abroad meeting. also learnt that it was at end of one of such meetings been held on 3rd August, in which Umunnakwe reiterated his earlier stand to recount how he spent the remitted fund at end of the month that some hired thugs regrouped thereafter to attack the victim’s family, after which they proceeded to impeach him and other members of the executive the next day.

Giving the graphic view of how the disputed land was owned and agreed to be sold, the business turned community leader said: “This land was sold to provide part of the money we are using to pursue the court case between Ngodo Ubaha and Umucheke village of Umunze, who had been unlawfully and continually encroaching into our vast land at Isiabo/Ohelogu.

“To achieve this, we he held a general meeting where it was generally agreed upon by members of the four kindred. We initially accepted to make available the sum of one million naira (N1, 000, 000.00) for execution of the court case. When there was nowhere to raise the required fund, we resorted to individual contributions, and lease of it to our people, who wish to farm at the rate of N100.00. Later, we jointly signed to sale part of it at cost of N70, 000.00 per plot.

“As a result, we opened an account number with one of the new generational bank, advertised the land and how it could be purchased at various medium for interested buyers to come in. Some of our people bought one, two and more plots. It was at the process, Igwe Ezira, who is not one of us linked us to his friend to buy 866 plots. As we agreed, the Chairmen and Secretaries of four kindred that owns the land, and the Committee’s Chairman—myself, my Vice and Secretary, and Igwe Uche signed a written agreement to that effect.

“We provided Igwe Samuel Uche with the relevant detail to sale the land. Unfortunately, he secretly convinced the buyer into paying the sum into his personal account. When we demanded for it, he paid part of it into our official bank account we earlier provided to him, told us to stop disturbing him and go and account for how we spend them.

“Meanwhile, we have used part of the fund for renovation of our town’s hall, sinking of water bohole, road rehabilitation and continual pursuance of our pending court cases. I have told my people to be patient that I would give them detail account when everybody will come home for our meeting at end of August. Majority of those from the four kindred agreed to what I said. Unfortunately, some people from my own kindred instigated by Igwe came and attack my family when I was not at home. They destroyed my multimillion naira properties and also made away with some fiscal cash I was keeping for a friend from another community,” he concluded.

Recounting her ordeals on the hands of the hoodlums, an eye witness and wife of the victim, Chuka Umunnakwe, said: “Some minutes after returning from the meeting where it was generally resolved that my husband would render an account of the land sale, someone phoned me to lock our compound gate which I did immediately. Some minutes later, I heard some voices singing ‘boys oye’, followed by sounds of stones on our zinc.

“Those persons later forced themselves into the compound by scaling through the fence; smashed our Almaco windows and the dispersed glasses inflicted injury on my son. They penetrated, forced me into my husband’s room where they requested for my husband and his money. When I could not provide any, they assaulted me, destroyed many other things and absconded with some money they found in the room. Having recognized their faces, I phoned my husband to notify him of what transpired. He returned home with policemen the following morning and arrested the perpetrators. Since the incident occurred, rainfall penetrates into our room as if there are no zinc on the roof,” she lamented. 

Also collaborating Umunnakwe family’s story, the Chairman of one of the kindred in Ubaha, and Secretary of the land committee, Ichie Obizoba Mbah, and Linus Okeke, the committee’s Vice chairman equally fingered Ezira Traditional Ruler on the vandalisation issue, even as they wondered why the aggrieved persons were mostly those from the victim’s kindred.

The duo equally denied knowledge of their purported impeachment and called on the government and other relevant authorities to wade into the matter so as to bring lasting peace to Ezira generally.

However, HRH Igwe Samuel Uche (Ezedioranma II of Ezira), while admitting that one of his friends (an industrialist), bought the controversial 866 plots of land from Ngodo Ubaha village, denied ever playing a role on the matter, because according to him, both the agreement and the amounts been paid were directly deposited into Ngodo Ubaha bank details by the buyer without his knowledge.

But some of the agreement notes made available to entitled “An Agreement between Ngodo Ubaha village Ezira and HRH Igwe Samuel Uche” dated 17th August, 2015 was jointly singed by the Igwe, HRH Igwe Samuel Uche and other witnesses such as Simon Onuka (Chairman, Umuezeatukoba), Joseph Ezejindu (Chairman, Umuezenobe), Isaac Irechukwu (Chairman, Umuezeanusi/Umuezekuchaa), Jude Umunnakwe (NUVPU), Linus Okeke (Vice Chairman, NUVPU), Ichie Obizoba Mba (Secretary, NUVPU), and Alex Okoli.

The monarch, who also claimed to be innocence of the house vandalisation, said he was at Awka for a federal government verses state government function when he received a call that some persons ruined Umunnakwe’s house and other properties, adding also that the victim allegedly retaliated using some thugs and policemen to destroy Alex Okoli’s buildings, inflicting injuries on the same Alex, his family members, amongst other persons.

He further recalled how he sued for peace immediately the crisis erupted, as well as how he had tried in vain to prevent the matter from the onset, but the victim allegedly turned deaf ear to his pleas for him to account for all he was duly paid by the lands buyer.

He however noted that the reason he swiftly went to bail those accused of vandalising Umunnakwe’s properties was because they were unlawfully tortured, with their properties equally destroyed before been arrested at midnight.

Supporting the Igwe, one of the signatories to the purported agreement note obtained by, and Chairman, Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Federal College of Education (Technical) Umunze chapter, Comrade Alex Okoli, while accusing Umunnakwe of personally using knife to pierce through one of his partially damaged eyes, posited that he was battered by his accused thugs, before been whisked away along others to Awka police station by the Police in the entourage.

However, his younger brother, Paul Okoli, while contradicting both Igwe and his elder brother (Alex), alleged that he was a Financial Secretary to the committee but at a point, Umunnakwe and others criminally removed him, as well sold the said land without any written or oral agreement with the four kindred—owners.

Others, who supported Alex’s younger brother, Mr. Ifeanyi Alaebo, and Livinus Anigor, and others refuted the claim that one million naira and a goat was used in celebrating them (the youths) because of the sold lands as the Jude and Igwe claimed that the buyer did as customarily demanded.

They also claimed that the sold land was 1, 256 plots instead of 866 plots both Igwe Umunnakwe earlier reported.



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