Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The tradition ruler of Eziowelle community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Igwe Michael Okonkwo Etusi, has denied the alleged imposition of N1 million levy to bereaved families before burial of dead persons in the community.
The monarch while briefing newsmen alongside the President General of the community Chief Titus. N. Akpudo and youth leader of the community, Mr. Emeka Okoye Ozo, described the allegation as false, unfounded and laughable.
It had been alleged that the leadership of the community collects the sum of N1 million as burial levy before any family is allowed to fix date for the burial of anybody in the community.
“The allegation that went viral in social media and in print media was not only false but still part of campaign of calumny against the winners of the election of new executive members of the community held last weekend by some of the defeated candidates.”
Igwe Etusi who expressed shock at the level of mischief of some people in the community just because they wanted power at all cost said the only levy paid in the community by the relations of the dead was the N3,000 annual development and security levies if the person was owing it before his death.
His words, “I have not heard about N1million being collected. I have never seen N1million together unless in the newspaper, but for me I have never seen N1million packed together. So, the person who is telling you that is doing his best to portray the community in a very bad light.”
“This is laughable in the sense that it came soon after the election. I consider it as part of the electioneering. It is not true. It is falsehood. It never happened, unless in the imagination of those peddling the wicked and false rumour. I have never heard about payment of #1million in my 25 years on the throne. I have never seen that in my life in this community”.
Lamenting that the persons behind this were doing their best to dent the image of the town, the Igwe said they could not be encouraging people to build houses and turn around to collect N1 million asking how much was left for the building project if one paid such amount to the community for building a house.
The traditional accused some of the wealthy sons of the community of being behind the tension and acrimony the election generated because they wanted to change the mode of the election contrary to the community’s Constitution.
“They were throwing money about in this community. Few days to the election, we did not sleep.All the hirelings including those from neighbouring communities were in this town but on election day I addressed our people to vote according to their conscience. At the end of the day winners and loosers emerged and they embraced themselves”.
Igwe Etusi urged moneybags in the community to help develop the community by giving scholarships and empowerment programmes to the youths and the less privileged rather than their money litigations, Police cases and crisis, saying that the cabinet would seat soon to deliberate on proper action to take on this issue.
He, however, advised and appealed to the people of Eziowelle to embrace peace and unity as the only means to move the community forward. ENDS