Posted by News Express | 28 February 2020 | 575 times
By EMMA ELEKWA, Onitsha
Indigenes of Umueri in Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra state have appealed to the federal government to intervene in the lingering rift between their community and the Nigeria Police over the Aguakor land donated for the construction of Police Institute of Finance and Administration.
The appeal followed the detention of four stakeholders from the community by the police on Feb 24, 2020.
The people, who recently took to the street over government encroachment of their land for the construction of the police facility, insisted that only a roundtable discussion with relevant authorities would bring lasting solution to the crisis.
The detainees were later arraigned before a magistrate court in Otuocha and granted bail with a surety in like sum of N100, 000 by the magistrate, M. I Ogolo before the matter was adjourned till March 4, 2020 for hearing.
Addressing newsmen on Friday, one of detainees, Chief Mike Aniegboka said they were still at loss over the charges by the Police, particularly that of pulling down certain portion of the fence erected by the Police at the site.
He said, “We were invited by the Divisional Police Officer, Otuocha to discuss with the Commissioner of police over the misundertanding that led to a peaceful demonstration by the community recently.
“When we got to the CPs office, to our greatest surprise, were told that we pulled down some portion of the wall being erected by the NPF at the said site.
“We were later detained at the State CID till about 9pm when we were released and asked to appear before a magistrate court the following morning.
He added, “We have given them 17 hectares of land and we are willing to give them more from a different location but the houses our children built should not be demolished.
“We have complained to the presidency, to the police IG. Aguakor land was never in contention with anybody, the governor is just intimidating us.”
Another detainee and Chairman, Ikenga Umueri clan, Chief Frank Ibegbunam, described the federal government as the only remedy to crises.
“We were invited by the police but we did not know that it was a plan to arrest us over what we did not do. With the federal government, I know God will answer our prayers,” he insisted.
One of the defense counsels, Mr S.O Iweoba said one of the defendants could not appear in court as he was rushed to hospital for medical attention following several hours he spent in police custody.
Also speaking, a legal practitioner and indigene of Umueri, Mr Jude Ekwenze absolved the people of the community from the allegations.
“Apart from the houses demolished by the Nigerian Police on the land, no one from the community had ever gone to pull any wall erected on the site,” he said.
Chief Joseph Chukwuma, who was among the aged that besieged the court premises yesterday in solidarity, wondered how a peaceful demonstration turned to conspiracy and malicious damage as contained in the charges presented by the police. (The Nation)
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