The entire people and council of elders of Nguru autonomous community in Nsukka Local Government Council of Enugu State have condemned in strong terms what they called ‘an attempt by some disgruntled elements in the community to cause anarchy and disorderliness.’
At a special meeting held at the palace of the community’s traditional ruler, HRH Igwe Linus Obayi, they said such disgruntled elements were spreading falsehood, thereby disrupting peaceful communal activities in the town.
The condemnation was in response to the recent protest by a certain group called Nguru Concerned Citizens (NCC) which has been having a running battle with the monarch, with the former accusing the community leader of selling communal lands and refusing to constitute the town union leadership.
But the members of the community, at the gathering, described the allegations as mere speculations aimed at defaming the good image of the community and that of its traditional ruler.
They demanded that the group recant their statement and render an apology to the traditional ruler and the entire community for making unfounded accusations which put them in bad light.
Speaking after the emergency stakeholders’ meeting convened by the community council of elders in Nguru town, comprising all the village heads, elders, youths, prominent sons and daughters of the town, Onyishi Ochiebo Obute Obayi (who is an elder and a council member) described the allegations as destructive and satanic, and capable of causing serious crisis.
He said that HRH Igwe Linus Obayi had in no particular time whatsoever obstructed the constitution of the town union or ever sold any land belonging to the community as speculated.
“The entire sons and daughters of the community are solidly behind our traditional ruler and that is why we have come out to express our support and solidarity.
“Our HRH Igwe Linus Obayi is a man of integrity and fairness. He has not in any way sold any community land; he has also not worked to frustrate the constitution of the town union body. They just don’t want to follow the laid down traditions in selecting the delegates to the town union,” he stated.
He further stated that the group had been fomenting trouble and disrupting the peace in the community having seen that their candidate lost in the election, therefore, resorted to mere smear campaign of calumny.
Also speaking, Mr. Thomas Obute, a member of the land committee, stated that no part of the community land had been ceded or sold to anyone.
He said Igwe Obayi was not the one in charge of land, noting that the land committee had been in existence before the emergence of Nguru autonomous community.
When reached out for his response, the traditional ruler, HRH Igwe Linus Obayi recounted his ordeal in the hands of Concerned Citizens of Nguru.
He said that the crisis in Nguru Nsukka was older than his emergence as the traditional ruler of Nguru Nsukka, noting that the town had been having leadership issues before 2007.
He recalled that, “In 2016, Rev Fr Ass. Prof Paul Martins Obayi (Okunerere) attracted a campus of a prestigious American University. The youths, and all the recognized stakeholders embraced it and the needed portion of land was ceded to him for the University.
“My major problem was that I supported the elders, youth and other custodians in ceding land to Fr Paul Obayi provided there is a memorandum of understanding of international repute.
“Sequel to the joy about the proposed University, a group of enemies of progress quickly emerged to fight the University project. They kept fighting Fr Okunerere, and later sued all recognized stakeholders in Nguru to court (Ndi Akpuru arua, Ndi Oha, Nguru youths, Fr Paul Obayi, the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Nsukka, and all the registered trustee of Catholic Diocese of Nsukka,) .
“They lost in court as they were declared ‘child of circumstances, and had no locus standi to contest for Nguru Nsukka Community properties’. Having seen that the court declared them as having no locus standi, they quickly went and changed their name to Nguru Development Union”.
On the allegation by Nguru Concerned Citizens about selling of lands, the traditional ruler noted that he had no dealings involving community lands.
“Nguru Nsukka Land Committee has been in existence for three decades (30 years) now to the extent that their long-existing chairman is now the Attamah Ezoguda – the oldest man – in Nguru Nsukka.
“When I came into power, I understood that the NCC were the people sponsoring our few brothers at Agbani Nguru to rise in fighting the entire Community. I decided not to dissolve the land committee or to be fully involved in the land matter.
“After due consultations, I decided to maintain the status quo. The land committee and entire real stakeholders can testify that I am never part of any selling of land. I am too comfortable to depend on proceeds from the sale of communal lands’’, he said.
On why the town union has not been formed since the elevation of the community to an autonomous status, he said that they (NCC) don’t want to follow the laid down traditions in selecting the delegates to the town union.
“In Nsukka land, Onyishi (eldest man) has element of absolute power when it comes to delegation to meeting and even Nguru Nsukka new draft constitution still recognized that the villages should nominate or appoint and the authentication is that such should bear the signature of Onyishi and secretary. They vowed that Nguru will never be at peace until their candidate is made the President-General,” he stated.
Igwe Obayi said that it took him nine months to form his cabinet because he was trying to make peace.
“On so many occasions I was insulted alongside the Akpuru arua, Oha, Umuada (community leadership structures), and Nguru Patriotic Forum Enugu that championed the peace committee during the then bloody situation during the university saga.
“All the members of NCC that I extended the invitation to join my cabinet so that they will be part of the decision making body of Nguru Nsukka rejected my invitation in writing.
“It is surprising to see that those who claim to be the eyes of the community, who have refused to attend any round table conference, have continued to constitute nuisance in the name of looking for town union. Professors and doctors are contesting for university vice chancellorship, directorship of international and local institutes but my own “educated” irresponsible men who have refused to attend meetings to discuss development of Nguru Nsukka are seriously embarking on road blocks with bad boys, and are proud to address the media to that effect’,’ he stated.
Exonerating the traditional ruler from the ensuing crisis in the community, Barr Joseph Ogbuka, a human right activist and a member of the community, who serves as the Attorney to the community, stated that he had made an investigation and found out that the propagators of the allegations were mere speculators.
According to him, “What they did was a height of arbitrariness, illegality and unlawfulness. They just want to get him out of office without a just cause.
“I am here to actually condemn what they have done. They owe HRH Linus Obayi and the entire community an unreserved apology. They apparently don’t want to follow the laid down traditions in selecting the delegates to the town union.
“It is unfair, unacceptable and unjust. They should recant their statement and apologize to the traditional ruler”.
Meanwhile, Dr Okwudili Obayi, a prominent son of the town, has appealed for calm.
He noted that what was happening in the community was a matter of ego and some misunderstandings that took place in the past, which had degenerated from one thing to another.