Amby Uneze in Owerri
Embattled indigenes of the Owerri zone in solidarity with Owerri indigenes Saturday converged at their ancestral village square (Ugwu Ekwema) which situates on Egbu road where they angrily invoked the wrath of their ancestors to descend on those who in one way or the other had a hand in the demolition of their ancestral market, Ekeukwu marke.
Led by their traditional prime minister, Chief Paul Nnawuchi, the Head of Oha Owerri, Nze Boniface Anokam, elders, village heads and their titled men, the people who wore black attires alongside their women folks prayed their fore-fathers to rise from their graves and defend their ancestral heritage which they said was now under threat of extinction by the Imo state government.
This is even as the people, in liaison with the entire Owerri zone have declared seven-day mourning for the market demolition and in memory of all those who lost their lives in the mayhem that trailed the demolition exercise.
The mourning period which would commence with a special thanksgiving mass at the Maria Assumpta Cathedral Owerri this Sunday would be rounded-off with a commendation service at the cathedral church of the Transfiguration of our Lord (CATOL) Owerri on 10th of September.
Prominent among the dignitaries at the gathering were: Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (member BOT of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Aviation Minister, Dr. Mrs. Kema Chikwe, APGA chieftain, Chief Martin Agbaso, a former governorship aspirant, Chief Ike C. Ibe, Barrister Ken Njemanze (SAN) while the senator for Owerri zone, Samuel Anyanwu, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha and Member for Owerri Federal Constituency, Ezenwa Onyewuchi said to be out of the country as all sent goodwill messages.
Chairman of the occasion, Barrister Ken Njemanze assisted by a PDP chieftain in the state, Chief Ambrose Ejiogu vividly captured the mood of the people in his remarks, stating that the market which was part of the cultural identity of the people and their veritable means of livelihood was put in place by their forefathers.
Njemanze expressed regret that efforts by the state government to relocate the market were resisted by the people with a subsisting court injunction which restrained the government from enforcing the plan.
He therefore expressed shock that the government which is supposed to be a symbol of rule of law, due process and a respecter of court orders shamelessly threw caution to the wind by removing the market saying â€œWe must ensure that the perpetrators of this criminality are brought to justice and committed to prison and we must also apply all necessary legal steps to ensure that the victims of the senseless demolition are adequately compensated.
Iwuanyanwu, who spoke in tandem with a number of speakers including Dr. Mrs. Kema Chikwe, village heads, women and youth leaders and notable politicians noted that the people have continued to make sacrifices for the development of the Owerri capital city by not only donating part of their ancestral land for this but also have their cultures and tradition bastardized by the state government.
Iwuanyanwu declared those who lost their lives in the mayhem that trailed the market demolition were martyrs, assuring that a committee would be put in place to investigate those behind the importation of ex-militants from the Ohaji-Egbema council of the state to smoothen the market relocation.
Contributing, the former speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Hon Nnaemeka Maduagwu described government action as lawlessness that had led to the desecration of the land and shedding of innocent blood, adding â€œwe have come here, the ancestral home of Owerri people with the immediate victims to appease our ancestors and exhibit our sorrowâ€.
â€œWe have resolved that Owerri market cannot move, Okorocha cannot move that market. That market cannot move he is just scratching the surface. You have seen the determination of the people, let him go ahead and kill more people, but that market will not move. Owerri people have continued to resist him, so let him go and get a battalion of army and kill more people but there is a day of judgment,â€ he said.