The people of NEKE-Uno in Mbano Nike Community, Enugu East Local Government Area have appealed to the Enugu State Government to restrain the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Edwin Edeoga, from alleged illegal sale of their land. The people, who made their views known in a protest march to Government House Enugu, also called on the State Government to grant them a separate autonomous community.

Mbano Nike Autonomous Community is made up of four communities: Agbo-ogazi, Ako, Neke-Odenigbo and Neke-Uno. The people of Neke-Uno Nike trooped en mass to Government House Enugu chanting songs of dissatisfaction and carrying placards with inscriptions: “Save Our Lives From Oppression of Edwin Edeoga,” “Rescue Neke-Uno From Igwe Edeoga,” “We Don’t Want Bloodshed in Neke-Uno” and “Save Our Souls From Igwe Edeoga.”

The protesters comprising of heads of families, parents and youths, accused Igwe Edeoga of conniving with Mr. Anayo Agbo, accused of possessing illegal Power of Attorney to sell the community land illegally, including alleged recent plot to sell five hundred plots of their land.

The eldest man in Neke-Uno, Ozo Peter Odo, alongside two other aged men and the Chairman of the Power of Attorney of the community, Ozo Gilbert Agbo, who spoke in Igbo, said there would be more crisis in the community if Enugu State Government failed to restrain Igwe Edeoga and Mr. Anayo Agbo from meddling in land matters in the area.

Their views were captured by the Legal Adviser of the community, Mr. Chukwuemeka Agbo.

“On July 4 (2020), they had a serious fight there, property were destroyed on the direction and instruction of Igwe for some group to sel 500 plots of the community. “The Neke-Uno Community want total restriction of Igwe Edeoga from interfering in their community,” the Legal Adviser stated.

The Youth Leader of Neke-Uno, Mr. Jude Nnamani and the Chairman, Land Committee of the community, Mr. Simon Agbo wondered why Igwe Edeoga who had been in support of their own chosen Chairman Power of Attorney, Mr. Gilbert Agbo would later turn to recognize and work with an alleged impostor, Anayo Agbo as the community’s Chairman of Power of Attorney.

They demanded for a separate autonomous community for Neke-Uno Nike, accusing Igwe Edeoga and Anayo Agbo of using their land to replace contentious plots of land sold in other communities.

“Igwe Edeoga have (sic) already polluted the mind of Anayo Agbo. When they some land at Ibeagwa Nike, then they will now come to our own land and change the land. So we are begging government to give us our own autonomous community,” Mr. Simon Agbo pleaded.

The Youth Leader, Mr. Namani made similar appeal.

“Yes, Igwe Edeoga is our traditional ruler but we don’t need him again, let him leave us alone and go his separate way because we don’t like the way he’s leading us.

“He will go and bargain: if they sell land in other places and their is problem with such land, they will come here to use our land replace the disputed land and we won’t know what has happened.

“We need autonomous community because if the leading you is not doing well, you are supposed to be be on your own so we need freedom,” Mr. Nnamani insisted.

When contacted, Igwe Edeoga denied all the allegations leveled against him, attributing the problem to power tussle among some community members.

“Besides being the Igwe, I hold the prestigious Ozo title, so I stand by the truth all the time.

“They are contradicting themselves and quarreling among themselves. I was formerly fighting Anayo Agbo and supporting Gilbert Agbo as having Power of Attorney until the people of Neke-Uno came to my palace for conflict resolution. That was where I saw a video clip of the election that Anayo was the winner and I have other supportive documents. So I now recognize Anayo as the authentic Chairman Power of Attorney for Neke-Uno.

“How can they accuse me of selling their land or conniving with anybody to sell their land? That’s a lie because I have never been a party to that. Even deed of agreement or contract, I have never been part of the signatories because no percentage is given to me there for palace maintenance.

“If they are struggling for autonomy, if government will consider it, let them give it to them, it lessens my problem, I have no objection to that,” Igwe Edeoga stated.

Meanwhile, Governor Ugwuanyi later addressed the protesters after about six hours of waiting because he was said to be in a virtual meeting. Chief Ugwuanyi told the protesters to select between 12 and 20 persons for a round table discussion with the embattled traditional ruler that will take place at Government House on a date to be fixed by the Governor.