MOKWUGWO SOLOMON reports that Ezioye village, Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State, has sent Save Our Soul (SOS) message to Governor Willie Obiano and the Inspector General of Police, urging them to save the community from constant police inversion, harassment and intimidation.
Ownership of a large expanse of land called ‘Ogbe’ in Ezioye village, Nteje, has brought untold tension to the town. Indigenes of the community, especially people from Ezioye, Isiogugu, Odoye, Amuda and Iruchima villages that are currently fighting over the land are sleeping with their eyes widely opened because of fear of the unknown. There have been reported cases of abduction, burning of houses, molestation and indiscriminate arrest of residents of the town, especially residents of Ezioye and Isiogugu villages.
Majority of residents of Ezioye and Isiogugu, the two villages where the trouble is more severe, now prefer to seek refuge at nearby communities of Nkwelle-Ezunaka and Umueri because of alleged inversion and harassment of their residences in the night by armed individuals believed to be policemen.
Mr. Chito Odiaka, the Secretary General of Ezioye Development Union, told The AUTHORITY that the problem among some villages in Nteje community started when Odokwe, Amuda and Iruchima villages sharing boundaries with Ezioye suddenly started claiming co-ownership of Ogbe farmland which, according to him, is an ancestral land of Ezioye village.
Odiaka said that Ogbe farmland rightfully belongs to Ezioye , and that is why it is called Ogbe-Ezioye farmland; but suddenly, neighboring villages started claiming co-ownership of the land, saying that it is a communal land, and that it must be shared, not only by indigenes of Ezioye village but also by residents of the neighboring villages.
According to him, when the other villages saw that Ezioye could not succumb to their antics, they devised other strategies including arresting residents of Ezioye with police, inversion of the village at night hours, molestation of the villagers, destruction of their farmlands and economic trees, among other things.
“In the night of Friday, February 24, 2017, at about 8.00pm, a team of policemen in a Hilux Van invaded our village, shot sporadically in the air and sprayed tear gas in the village, causing residents to run helter-skelter.
“The policemen were accompanied by some members of the other villages claiming our land. At the end, scores of residents of Ezioye were found unconscious with many of them sustaining bullet wounds. This is not the first time this kind of thing is happening to us. It is a constant thing.”
“It is disturbing that some rich and prominent people in our society will prefer to sponsor this kind of evil with their money. They are doing this instead of channeling their wealth into developmental projects”, he added.
Odiaka said that at the peak of the crisis, Ezioye community approached an Otuocha High Court under Justice G.C. Anulude, where they got court injunction restricting further arrest and molestation of residents of Ezioye by the police but that even after that, the molestations continued.
Other elders of Ezioye, including Pious Madukolu, Mike Onwuegbusi and Simon Onwuegbusi, who also spoke to The AUTHORITY, corroborated what Mr. Odiaka said and called on Governor Willie Obiano, the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, Mr. Sam Okaula, to come to their rescue.
When the Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, Mr. Sam Okaula, was contacted to tell the level of involvement of police in the Nteje crisis, he said that the case is being investigated; but he declined further comment.