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By Emeka Mamah
ENUGU—The Abagana Welfare Association, AWA, in Anambra State has declared four prominent traditional leaders of the community missing.
The Onowu (traditional Prime Minister) of Abagana, High Chief Alfred Onugha who spoke in a telephone interview with Vanguard, yesterday, said that those allegedly missing after the police invasion of Abagana community following the land dispute between the people and Ukpo community include High Chiefs Amobi Ezekwe, Eugene Anene, Stephen Ezediegwu and Charles Nwazojie.
This was even as police sources said in Awka that the traditional chiefs who were arrested on August 19 in their residences over alleged conduct likely to cause a breach of peace were helping detectives in their investigations over the issue.
However, AWA asked the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, to compel the state Police Commissioner, Samuel Okaula, to immediately release all persons arrested in the wake of the latest round of clashes between the two communities or, in the alternative, charge them to court.
They said that some of those arrested in the land dispute were paraded as terrorists while the whereabouts of others including the high chiefs were unknown.
In a petition to the IGP, AWA also, accused the state police command of allegedly taking sides in the said land dispute, pointing out that the activities of the command had increased threats to the peace, law and order in the area.
The petition was signed by Counsel to the community’s umbrella union of all the cultural associations, Emma Ifeadike. AWA noted that the Police Commissioner and his subordinates, especially the Area Commander (Awka) ACP Longe, and the Divisional Police Officers, DPOs, in charge of Dunukofia and Njikoka Local Government Areas, laid siege on the Abagana community as they had become pawns on the chessboard of a billionaire and business mogul native of Ukpo community (name withheld).
The community stressed that the land feud between the two communities was before the Court of Appeal in Enugu (in case numbers CA/E/86/2002 and motion CA/110M/2015), adding that despite the pendency of the case, hundreds of thugs were mobilized into the disputed land last June to bulldoze several properties, farmlands and economic trees belonging to members of Abagana community.
According to them, the Ukpo Community had since built a police post on the disputed land, “with illegal police protection…, apparently to frustrate the upcoming appeal court case.”
According to them, “Since August 20, 2016 when the youth of both communities engaged in renewed confrontation, scores of leaders of Abagana community have been arrested in midnight swoops by policemen, with most of them still languishing in detention.
“The mass arrest is believed to be targeted at people close to Chief Emmanuel Nwude, (Owelle Abagana) who is suspected to be financing the court case against Ukpo.
“Curiously, barely 24 after the arrest, Commissioner of Police, COMPOL Samuel Okaula addressed a world press conference where he paraded 10 workers of EM Guest Inn, Abagana, owned by High Chief Emma Nwude, and branded them as terrorists.”
Ifeadike then urged the IGP to take-over investigations into the most recent bout of violence on the Abagana-Ukpo border as his subordinates in Anambra had largely been compromised and can no longer be trusted to conduct an impartial investigation.
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