Igbo-Etiti LGA battles host community over siting of market stalls

From Chijioke Attah, Nsukka

The Uwelu Amakorfia in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, has dared the local government authority over plans to construct a block of stalls in Ogbede Park.

The community in an apparent display of disregard for constituted authority had mobilized its youths to confront and stop the council officials from developing one of the markets located in their community.

The youths numbering over 300, stormed the said park and dismantled pillars, and leveled the foundation of the stalls, even as they threatened to lynch the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the council who came to the scene with some police officers to arrest members of the irritant youths.

While reacting to the development, the Secretary of the LGA, Mr. Kennedy Agu, told The AUTHORITY that trouble started when the council refused to yield to a 60-40 allocation sharing formula of the stalls in favour of the host community on the ground that they (the community) had been compensated in other stalls in Ogbede Market.

The secretary who is also the Vice-Chairman of the Internally Generated Revenue Committee of the council, told our reporter that when the allocation plea failed, the community then decided against the building of the stalls on the ground that the park is not spacious enough to accommodate such project.

He alleged that some disgruntled elements in the community were instigating other members of the community to create chaos in the council, adding that the “youth from the community encircled the vehicle of the DPO who came to make some arrests with his team and ordered them to leave the scene, otherwise, they would lynch him there.
“I have tried to educate the community that Ogbede Market belongs to the council and not the host community, but they won’t listen,” he said.

However, the President-General of the warring community, Chief Simon Ezenwodo, told our reporter that the community had refused other development projects in the park because of lack of space.

He said that trouble wouldn’t have started had the local government authority listened to the plea of his people who mobilised and encircled the troubled portion with raffia leaves in a peaceful protest, adding that the youth got enraged when they found out that the council adamantly continued with work on the site, leading to the destruction of some building installations.

Ezenwodo added that part of the grievances of the host community were lack of transparency in the allocation of previous stalls at the Ogbede Market, and absence of toilet and drainage facilities in the market.
Efforts by the council Chairman, Barr. Nkechi Ugwu-Oju for a peaceful resolution of the matter had hit the rock as the community was not favorably disposed to her peace moves.
The intervention by many well-meaning individuals from the community for a peaceful settlement was rebuffed by some interested parties in the community.
However the council boss has vowed to do the needful if the community refused to tow the path of peace.

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