Land grabbing: Enugu youths protest against traditional ruler, ex-President General

Residents of Owo community in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State have protested against their traditional ruler, Igwe Okeke Arum, and former President General, Mr. Okeke Akpu, over alleged “land grabbing” and “high-handedness”.

Owo is the country home of the Enugu State Governor, Peter Mbah.

The residents led by various youths organizations in the community stormed the streets on Tuesday, with placards calling on the state government to end the impunity of the traditional ruler and his cohorts, adding that if he was stopped now his actions might trigger a communal war in no distance time.

Addressing journalists shortly after marching through the community, the President General of Owo Town Union, Prince Augustine Nnajieze, said their protest is against alleged atrocities committed by Igwe Godwin Okeke Arum.

Nnajieze accused him of turning the Community into his personal property, lamenting that the worse was that he has turned Neighbourhood Watch security to his thugs, using them to harass and intimidate anybody that spoke against his actions.

He said that Okeke Arum is not the traditional ruler of Owo community adding that he is the traditional ruler of Mburu Owo Autonomous Community, yet he is forcing himself on the entire Owo community.

“This man has committed so many atrocities in Owo Town, that he has turned the Enugu State Neighbourhood Watch security into his thugs. He uses the Neighborhood Watch to harass, intimidate and kill anybody who disagrees with him.

“The Owo Community has no traditional ruler, but he wants everybody to come and bow to him. The very moment you don’t accept to bow before him, you become an enemy.”

He alleged that the monarch sold land that belongs to Asisi village to the governor, His Excellency, Governor Peter Mbah, and pocketed the money. The land was sold to the governor for N200 million by the agreement of the whole community, but the man started spending the money, by constructing roads and other things without consulting the community.

“The community does not have a traditional ruler today, because of Arum’s activities. The Asisi village is in crisis because the man has been selling land that belongs to everybody. He sold the land where we have a boundary with Ndiagu Owo. If it were not for him, we don’t have any reason to be dragging land with our brothers in Ndiagu Owo.”

He added, “The former governor of Enugu State, His Excellency, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi once called him to leave Owo Town and mind Mburu Owo Autonomous Community, but he refused. The crisis in Ohani, Ogara, and other clans over the sales of community lands is from him.

“We are pleading with Governor Peter Mbah to please deliver us from the hand of this man. His Excellency should please save us from the terror of this man so that we can select the person that will be our traditional ruler by ourselves,” he pleaded.

Lamenting the high-handedness of Igwe Arum, the Chairman of Ohani Owo Development Association, Hon Emmanuel Egbo, said that the people of Obeagu Ohani Owo (one of the clans that form the Mburu-Owo Autonomous community) were not happy and are unwilling to continue to be part of the Mbulu Owo Autonomous community.

Egbo said that going by the terror from the autonomous ruler, Igwe Arum, who terrorizes people with his armed men and has never deemed it fit to influence any little basic amenities like motorable road and electricity, which he is enjoying in his area, the people are no longer interested in being part of the autonomous community.

He said the people are equally threatened by his divide-and-rule system which is only a ploy to weaken their strength to succeed in his unsearchable quest to grab the lands left behind by their ancestors

“What this man is doing is abominable, he is presently bulldozing people’s farmland, appropriating and selling same.

“I don’t know what he has in mind, because, he has some cronies among our people. Even, he locked the community head, and we have been on the case for some time now.”

Meanwhile, Igwe Arum has said he would not talk to any journalist on the telephone when contacted for a reaction.

He said, “I don’t talk to anybody on the telephone regarding the issue. So, anybody who wants to hear my side of the story should come to my house to interview me.”