Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Tension gripped residents of the sleepy Ogbosinne community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State yesterday following the gruesome murder of a traditional ruler, Igwe Stephen Nwatu.
The tragic incident has led to the burning down of about 25 buildings in the community by irate youths, even as most residents of the area have already abandoned their homes.
THISDAY checks revealed that the traditional ruler was mobbed by his subjects when he allegedly wanted to prevent them from attending a scheduled meeting with the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi last Monday afternoon.
In the ensuing fracas, the monarch was alleged to have ordered his driver to overrun his subjects, who refused to yield to his orders to return home.
Apparently obeying his masterâ€™s orders, the driver had reportedly driven into the crowd, knocking down one elderly man and breaking his legs in the process, while others sustained different degrees of injuries. The man is now receiving treatment at the Federal Orthopedic Hospital in the state.
Following the attack on the crowd, it was gathered that the people had rather descended on the traditional ruler and not only beat him to pulp but stripped him naked. He was later rushed to Enugu State Teaching Hospital where he was said to have died in the early hours of yesterday.
The Chairman of Nkanu West Local Government Area, Henry Okenwa, confirmed the unfortunate development when contacted by journalists.
â€œI was informed about the incident last Monday afternoon and I rushed to the Parklane Hospital where I met him unconscious. He was later revived and he spoke with me. So, I left the hospital to allow him to stabilise,â€ he said.
â€œRegrettably, around 1 a.m., I received another call that the traditional ruler has passed on. I equally rushed back to the hospital where I found it to be true. We made efforts to deposit him in the mortuary, he said. â€œSince last Monday night, police have been battling to ensure that there was peace. The burning of houses probably started after the police left the community and I have briefed the governor. As we speak, I am with the commissioner of police discussing the situation,â€ he said.
Also, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Ebere Amaraizu, a Superintendent of Police confirmed the death of the royal father.
Amaraizu said: â€œThe command through the operatives of the state intelligence and investigations department has commenced a full scale investigation into the incident with a view to finding out the circumstances surrounding the incident as well as those involved.â€
Already, it was gathered that a detachment of armed mobile policemen have been sent to the community to possibly maintain peace and order.
It was also gathered that the deceased traditional ruler whose remains have been deposited at the mortuary was having a serious running battle with his subjects bothering mainly on high handedness, indiscriminate imposition of illegal levies among others.
The situation resulted in the community petitioning the state government seeking urgent intervention.