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Land Crisis in Nigerian Community

By Emeka Osondu

( Friday, April 6, 2007 )

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 Author  Masterweb

"Nkerehi residents allege Dr. Maduka and his collaborators are using both mobile and regular policemen from formations in Enugu and Umuahia to arrest, detain and torture perceived enemies or anybody opposed to their unpopular activities in the community."

Crisis is brewing in sleepy Nkerehi community in Orumba South Local Area of Anambra State following an alleged wide scale persecution by one of the prominent sons of the area, who most of the indigenes accuse of using his wealth to terrorize, harass and intimidate members of the community as well as take over their land by force.

The protracted crisis, which has made some residents to flee the town for fear of being arrested by the police is between the majority of Nkerehi residents on one side and Dr. Godwin Maduka, a native of the town but resident in the USA in alliance with the traditional ruler and the President-General of the town union.

Nkerehi residents allege Dr. Maduka and his collaborators are using both mobile and regular policemen from formations in Enugu and Umuahia to arrest, detain and torture perceived enemies or anybody opposed to their unpopular activities in the community. Dr. Maduka has used his wealth in buying over his few but powerful allies and has through deceitful means been taking over people's land for the building of a monastery. He allegedly changed the name of the town from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu and removed the old signpost bearing the name of the community without the consent of the people. Local government authorities in the area said they are yet to be formally informed of the change of name. They said there are procedures laid down by law for affecting such changes in society, adding that it was only when these are complied with that such changes can be affected and gazetted. The head of service in the Council, Mr. Ikechukwu Nnunyelu was quoted saying: ”we have not gazetted such name as Umuchukwu".

Community sources allege fifteen residents of the town had been arrested within the last two weeks which resulted to many fleeing the embattled community for fear of Maduka's terrorism. Maduka could not be reached despite frantic efforts by repoerters. Those in his camp however accused people from the other camp with the kidnap of the traditional ruler, Igwe Michael Ukegbu on March 11, 2007, an action they claimed prompted Maduka to arrest some people for alleged complicity in the abduction. The traditional ruler has since been released.

Members of Nkerehi Town Union and the Anglican Church have filed two petitions against Maduka with the Inspector-General of Police(IGP) on the misuse of the police in Nkerehi. One of the petitions alleges an illegal detention cell in Dr. Maduka's home. In response to the petitions, the IGP in a letter ref. no. CB:7000/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL./82/50 directed Assistant Inspector-General(AIG), Zone 9, Umuahia to investigate the alleged "use of mobile police assigned to Dr. Godwin Maduka to assault, brutalize and unlawfully detain persons in both his illegal prison and the police cell".

The Divisional Police Officer{DPO} in charge of Umunze Police Station was not on seat when a team of reporters visited the station, his second in command who only gave his name as Mr. Keshi confirmed the Nkerehi communal crisis. He tactically avoided details, perhaps on account of the alleged biased role they are playing in the crisis. ”If you didn’t report it, did you not read that the traditional ruler of the place was abducted even thought he has come back”, Keshi asked reporters.

Map of Nigeria showing Nkerehi town.
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing Nkerehi town. Nkerehi town is yellow dot on the map.
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