George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Barely a week after Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, constituted Interim Committees for the 27 Local Government Areas of the state, the man at the helm of affairs at Njaba Local Government, Obodoshaa Agwubuo, was confronted with serious crisis to manage.
Women of Umuaka autonomous community welcomed him with a fierce protest and passed a no confidence on the traditional ruler of the community, Eze Aloysius Oginnaka as well as members of the management of Afor Umuaka Modern Market Building Committee for alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the construction of the market.
The women who trooped enmasse protested against what they described as abuse of public trust by the monarch and those entrusted with the community’s market project. They sealed off the premises of the community borehole and the new shops being erected at the Afor Umuaka market square with palm fronds.
It was gathered that the situation may have gone out of hand as the irate women were battle ready to confront their alleged oppressors but for the intervention of men of the Njaba Police Division.
Mrs. Josephine Igboanusi who addressed newsmen said they have had enough of the overbearing behaviour of the monarch who she alleged had appropriated the community’s property and wilfully denied the people access to the shops they contributed money to erect.
“The women of this community have passed a vote of no confidence on Eze Aloysius Oginnaka because of his overbearing behaviour. He has cornered the community’s properties to himself while the people who have contributed money for the building of new shops at the Afor Umuaka market were denied access to the shops even when we were the original owners before they was demolition exercise. Also, Messers Uzoma and Philip Ajoku too, refused to render account to the community over the community borehole project “.
She called on the governor to come to their rescue to ensure that no lives and property were lost as the crisis continued to rock the community while all attempts by their spouses to ensure peaceful resolution of the issues proved abortive.
According to her, the traditional ruler has allegedly refused to heed to their complaints and the suffering of the women who have neither shop nor a place to sale their wares even when there is no other local market in the area.
However, the Interim Committee Chairman of Njaba Local Government Area, Agwubuo has assured the protesting women that the problem would be resolved amicably.
He stated that neither structures nor further construction work will be allowed to go on in the market and that the borehole earlier sealed by the women would remain so till further notice.
President General of Umuaka Community, Mr Maxwell Ezike told Daily Sun that the women had embarked on protest following the exclusion of the people in the allocation of the new shops at the instruction of the monarch, whom he alleged has been acting as if he owned the market.
“All we need is allotting shops to the original shop owners and to stop them from short changing the original shop owners. We want the State Government to intervene in this matter before it escalates”, Ezike said.
When contacted, the monarch dismissed the allegation as frivolous saying he had no hand in either the construction or the allocation of shops as the market project was a state government project. He added that final allocation of shops was yet to be done, as the project has not been completed.
“As the traditional ruler of this community, it’s my responsibility to ensure that there is peace in my domain; this is why I found the allegations of some of the women leaders who led the protesters very strange and frivolous. I don’t allocate shops neither have I dictated who should be given or not. The market project is a government project and it is only after the completion of the entire project that shops could be allocated to the new owners and even old shop owners after the payment of a prescribed amount as already agreed,” he stated.