Enugu community, tackles ex-commissioner over police harassment | Dailytrust

Enugu community, tackles ex-commissioner over police harassment

The People of Umualum Enugu-Agu Achi community in Oji River Local Government Area had in their hundreds staged a peaceful protest against what they described as indiscriminate police arrest and extortion of villagers.

The angry natives appealed to the state Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to prevail on Dr. Eric Oluedo, a title-holder of Nze, who represents the village in Igwe-in-Council, to desist from using the police to harass and intimidate villagers.

The protesters brandished various placards with inscriptions such as “Oji-River Police Area Command should stop arresting villagers and extorting N35,000 as bail for committing no crime,” “We Say No to the Tyranny of Dr Eric Oluedo,” “Please, Gov. Ugwuanyi Rescue Us,” “We are tired of police intimidation and molestation of our people,” and others as they also marched around the community and Oji-River town.

One of the leaders of the protesters, Sunday Umeh, who was among the people said to have been arrested and extorted by the police, told newsmen that the only crime he committed was that he supported a prayer crusade in the village.

Sixty-five-year-old Umeh said that the prayer crusade was meant to seek the face of God for what he regarded as the ‘backwardness of the community youths in their businesses and anything they ventured into’

He claimed that police personnel within the area were being used to pick them up because they wanted to worship, pray to God and seek divine solutions to their problems.

Also, the Youth Leader of the village, Kingsley Oluedo, who corroborated Umeh’s narrative, confirmed that seven persons had been arrested, while five others had been invited by the Police.

Oluedo urged Gov. Ugwuanyi to call Dr. Oluedo to order so that he would stop using the police to harass them. He also called on the State Police Commissioner, Abubakar Lawal to prevail on his men from harassing and intimidating the natives. “Our crime is that one man, who feels that he has become a god, doesn’t want prayers in the village except he approves it. This is an aberration.”

Chiagoziem Udegbunnam who is also a youth in the village accused the police of locking up youths almost daily, allegedly on the order of Dr. Oluedo.

He said: “We now take refuge in neighbouring communities, as no one is sure of who would be the next to be locked up in the police cell.”

A Catechist at the Assumption Catholic Parish in Enugu-Agu Achi, Victoria Nwankwo, alleged that the only communal palm plantation in the village, which was the only source of revenue generation for the village, had been converted to personal property by the former commissioner.

Nwankwo demanded to know when it had become a crime in Nigeria to pray to God or for villagers to hold a meeting in the town-hall built with their sweat.

Reacting, Dr. Eric Oluedo exonerated himself from the current wave of crisis raging in his community.

Oluedo, who is a former commissioner in the state dismissed allegations describing them as mere fabrications by some disgruntled elements, using his blood brother, Ephraim Oluedo, to malign him.

The former commissioner, who is recognised in their traditional parlance as Nze Eric Oluedo, said the power to maintain law and order in the community behoves around the chairman of the community.

He explained that when the defiant group in the community piloted by his younger brother unlawfully broke into the Civic Centre constructed by Enugu State government, against the standing order of notifying and collecting the keys; the chairman was left with no other option than to invite the police.

According to him, there is a standing rule in the community, which stipulates that before any preacher not domiciled within the community can come for a crusade, the president general and town union executives must be notified in writing for an approval.

Nze Oluedo said that the defiant group in Umualum community led by his younger brother, Ephraim Oluedo, brought in a prophetess for a crusade, without the consultation of the Anglican and Catholic clerics who at an instance staged a walk-out from the crusade ground over distortion of facts and programmes of the crusade by Ephraim and his cohorts.

He stated that the controversy surrounding the turn-down of the December 2021 crusade even though he was not involved was purely based on the fact that the defiant group failed to notify and obtain permission from the PG and Igwe in council before inviting external spiritual leader to the community, as the rule implies.

He however said that he remains a man of peace in Umualum community and initiator of development and facilitator of progress ,who used his position while in power to attract laudable social amenities to the community.

The state Police spokesman, ASP Daniel Ndukwe said he would react to our reporter’s questions after getting details of what happened. As at the time of filing the report, he had not responded.

 

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