Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, on Wednesday, announced the abolition of ‘Osu’, caste practice in the state.
The governor who described the practice as ‘satanic’ said the abolition takes immediate effect.
The governor, during a protest by some indigenes of Obuno Ndi Uno community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of the state, said on no account should anybody be described as a slave in the community.
Osu is a practice in some part of Igbo land which proscribes some individuals as outcast.
Such individuals who are also indigenes are referred to as slaves in the communities and do not associate with other members of the community.
In some cases, the Osu have their own market spaces and do not buy or sell goods to other residents who are seen as true blood of the community.
They are also not allowed to marry other individuals who are not Osu.
Also, condemning the practice, Ugwuanyi said Nigeria’s Constitution has placed all Nigerians on the same level.
He added that the Enugu state laws also abolished the system.
“Slavery and segregation have been abolished and as far as the state government is concerned, we do not recognize Osu Caste system.
“We operate the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The governor further decried challenges residents face following such dehumanising treatments.
He called on community members to embrace Christianity and treat their fellow humans as one.
Ugwuanyi said: “If you know you are holding anybody down in the name of whatever belief that is not godly please release such person and let them be free.”
Also speaking at the protest, the president general of the town union Austin Okoye said the seat of the traditional ruler in the state has been vacant.
Okoye called on the state government to intervene by conducting an election which would produce a traditional ruler.
“We want the state government to come and conduct the election using option A4,” Okoye said.
“We are ready to support anybody who wins but we do not want imposition.
“Our community is in trouble. There is high rate of crime because we do not have a traditional ruler.
“We want the governor to call the commissioner to order and for him to come and conduct the election.”