From Eziomume Solomon, Nnewi
Scores of women from Okuzu-Mbana village, Oba, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, have protested alleged forceful takeover and sale of their farmlands by youths of the community.
They also accused the youths of constant torture and intimidation of their husbands so as to silence them.
Armed with placards, the women took to the streets, chanting songs depicting their displeasure over the development, calling on Governor Willie Obiano, the Inspector-General of Police and other stakeholders to intervene and avert bloodshed.
Leader of Oba women, home branch, Ngozi Ibeto, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, alleged that some persons in the community were encouraging youths of the village to sell farmlands belonging to different families.
“These youths would sell a piece of land to somebody, and later they would sell the same land to another person, thereby, causing problems for our community. This scenario, if left unchecked, will also result in a situation where Okuzo-Mbana will not have farmlands anymore.
“Our husbands, who are the elders of the community, had been warning them to stop selling people’s lands; that’s the crime they committed. So, from time to time, the youths would regroup and arrest our husbands, detain them in the bush and torture them, so that they would not talk about the land again.
“We call on Governor Willie Obiano, the Inspector-General of Police and other relevant authorities to come to our help, because, we foresee impending crisis and possible bloodshed, if these youths are not called to order,” she said.
A septuagenarian, Godwin Egbochukwu, who also spoke on behalf of the elders allegedly tortured by the youths, said that life in the community was no longer safe for those that had kicked against indiscriminate sale of land by youths.
He said: “Recently, the youths arrested me alongside Dennis Ejiofor, Stephen Aniemenam, Jeff Okoye and Izuchukwu Olise. They tortured us before our wives and our children, before they took us to the bush, where they detained us for hours before one Ukadike Ibeabuchi came and directed them to leave us but not without warning us never to interfere with their activities nor report the matter to the police. These people masterminding sale of our farmlands are from the neighbouring Umuezeokpala and Umuezeogbogu villages.”
However, one of those accused of backing the youths in their nefarious acts, Ukadike Ibeabuchi, said they were innocent of the allegations.
He said: “Personally, I am the general chairman of Okuzu village; Benneth Chibueze is the administrative Ichie in the entire Oba community, while Emeka Maduako is aspiring to replace the late Igwe Ezenwa (who had joined his ancestors) as traditional ruler. How could this class of individuals, who are leaders of the community, encourage youths to sell people’s lands or beat elderly men?
“These people casting aspersions on us were sponsored by our opponents. As village chairman, when Okuzu-Mbana wanted to form youth association, I discouraged them. I told them the dangers inherent in forming such association. They formed the group and went ahead to arm them with cutlasses and motorcycles.
“Today, those youths are giving them trouble, and they are calling people who are on their own. Could they mention anybody whose land I or any of the prominent names they mentioned sold? Let them continue calling my name; one day, my God will soil their own names.”