Residents of Agbaja community at Abatete in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State have protested alleged imposition of leadership on their people.
The protesters, under the aegis of Agbaja Abatete Community Association (AACA), also alleged threats to their lives by those they called influential persons in the town who had been attempting to replace the current administration with another.
They urged Governor Willie Obiano to call the community’s “trouble makers” to order to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the community.
Addressing reporters at the weekend after a meeting with the police, AACA President, Prof. Ikechukwu Okudo, accused the Traditional Prime Minister of the community, Chief Pius Ezeigwe, of single-handedly setting up a caretaker committee without recourse to the constitution, after claiming dissolution of his (Okudo’s) administration.
He said despite the rejection of the committee by majority of AACA members, some other officials swore in the committee, even when there was no vacancy.
The AACA president said the committee wrote a petition to the police, alleging threat to lives, breach of community peace and plot to conduct election.
Okudo said: “I’ve been President for three years until we decided to hold a general election, which COVID-19 stopped us from holding. But on July 5, 2020, I convened a meeting where the association extended my tenure for one month – till August 2 – to enable us hold the election.
“When we convened a general meeting to think of a way forward, after realising we could not still hold the election due to the ban on elections by the government, we discovered that the venue had been sealed by the police and some members of Abatete Vigilance Group stationed to disperse us.
“But one of us, Chief Basil Mbanefo, who was did not know about our decision to shift the meeting and went to the venue, was arrested and was brought to the Area Command at Ogidi.
“We came to sort out his bail, but they brought out a petition, saying 10 of us were being awaited. That’s why we’re here today to answer them. Members of the caretaker committee were also invited.”
Okudo said the police discovered their claims of threats to lives, breach of the peace and planning the election were false, after AACA proved to them that the committee was unconstitutional.
He added: “Area Commander asked us to come back next Tuesday (tomorrow) so that certain relevant persons could attend, including Chief Pius Ezeigwe and the President General, Chief Moses Chukwuka.
“We appeal to concerned authorities to call the Igwe to order. He should be made to behave himself. We are peaceful people, we’re not violent. You can see the elderly men among us.”
When reporters contacted the Secretary to the Caretaker Committee, Chief Cyprian Iloegbunam, for his reaction to the allegations, he simply said: “We’re not disposed to speak to you.”
Ezeigwe referred our reporter to the President General, Mr. Moses Chukwuka, who did not answer his calls.