Abagana, Ukpo land dispute takes new twist
*Community wants CP redeployed, the other mourns victims
*Police doing their job, he says
*Rotary chief urges end to crisis.
The land dispute between Abagana and Ukpo communities in Njikoka and Dunukofia Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Anambra State has taken a new dimension as the former called for the removal and subsequent transfer of the commissioner of police, Mr. Samuel Okaula.
The decision to call for Mr. Okaula’s removal from the state was taken in a meeting of Abagana Welfare Union which passed a vote on no confidence on Okaula, appealing to the Presidency, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Police Service Commission to immediately transfer him out of the state.
They also called for the investigation of the activities of the state police boss whom they accused of betraying the confidence of the public as Abagana people are no longer secured under his watch.
But Okaula dismissed their claim, saying that “crime was committed and people don’t want to be arrested.”
His words: “Criminals burnt down a police station, and the police are doing their work. I don’t compromise. I do my job professionally. Whoever goes against the law will be arrested.”
He added that those arrested have been taken to court.
Also, Ukpo community has stated its own side of the story, insisting that the land in dispute belongs to them.
At a press conference, the traditional ruler (Igwe) of Ukpo, Dr. Robert Eze, Okofia VI, and the president-general, Group Captain Benson Okoye (rtd), who led other members of the king’s cabinet alleged an invasion by Abagana people on Augut 19, 2016 which led to loss of lives.
Igwe Eze stated that Ukpo and Nri were the owners of the area whilethat other communities came later as settlers. According to him, Ukpo’s progenitors made boundaries with Abagana people, but that when the latter’s descendants disputed the agreement and went to court, they lost the case.
Acting President General and spokesman of Abagana Welfare Union, Chief Ben Ugha and Emma Ifeadike, accused the police boss of hurriedly arresting and detaining traditional chiefs, lawyers and other illustrious sons of the town to silence them over the land.
They alleged that the CP was playing the script of an influential son of Ukpo community who a billionaire oil magnate (names withheld) as exemplified by his utterances in the media while investigation on the matter was yet to be completed.
The town union expressed concern over what they called the hurried manner in which the police produced their witnesses in court which had tasked the security outfit on fundamental rights proceedings.
Insisting that the land legitimately belongs to Ukpo, Igwe Eze said: “The land is not claimed by the whole Abagana people but a particular war-like settler known as Orofia which has been a thorn in the flesh of its neighbours. It is Abagana Orofia that has been causing trouble in this area, taking people’s land by force and by trick.”
Okoye also said Ukpo is peace-loving and given the pedigree of its leaders had always followed due processes of the rule of law in tackling matters.
He alleged that Abagana has constantly carried out violent attacks on Ukpo, especially the recent one on August 19, when “they deployed some mercenaries armed with AK 47 riffles, bombs, dynamites and other deadly weapons leading to the loss of lives.”
According to the PG, his community on November 16, 2011 got a perpetual injunction restraining Abagana from further trespass on the parcel of land delineated in plan number MU/D6/96 which belongs to Ukpo.
He claimed that Abagana appealed against the judgment in suit No. CA/E/86/M/12, but it was struck out for want of prosecution by Hon. Justice AJ Abdul-kadir of the Appeal Court, Enugu division.
Okoye further said that twice, Abagana major stakeholders had come to Ukpo for settlement out of court but that the moves failed because the said the latter had insisted that the land be shared into two halves, a request the latter (his own people) turned down.
Ukpo said it is mourning one of its sons, Emmanuel Chigozie Okafor, which it claimed was killed during the invasion.
It also commiserated with the police whose four personnel it claimed “were wounded, some critically during the attack.”
Meanwhile, Abagana High Chief, Dr. Chris Anyakorah, has called for an amicable settlement of the matter “in the spirit of Igbo unity and solidarity.”
In a statement, Anyakorah who is the Okofia III Abagana, Clan Head of Enuora. Umudunu Abagana and Eze Udo Lekki, Lagos said: “ I am a Nigerian patriot and Pan-Africanist who does not want my people, Abagana and Ukpo, to be at war but work in unity for the future of our people.”
Sir Anyakorah, a former Rotary Club Lekki president, added:” We as leaders of the two communities should do everything positive to unite and ensure peace among our people. I urge Chief Arthur Eze and others to show understanding in this regard so that our people will not live in fear.”