Women of Nimo community in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State have protested against their community’s leadership, threatening to go naked if the state governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, fails to intervene, reports David-Chyddy Eleke.
Women comprising mostly of aged people and youths, all numbering over 1,000 recently stormed the Anambra State Government House in Awka, calling on Governor Soludo to intervene in what they described as high-handedness on the part of their traditional ruler, Igwe Max Ike Oliobi, and the leadership of the community’s town union. The protesters accused the leadership of the community of also grabbing their land.
Nimo, a once peaceful community, with several respected individuals in all spheres of life, especially in the academia, which it parades several top class scholars and think tanks. But recently, the town has been thrown into confusion because of a large expanse of land refered to as Owa land, which is a product of conquest, several decades ago by the forebears of Nimo people.
The land which has laid fallow for years since after their forebears conquered it in a war has recently been put into use.
The leadership of the community, comprising of the new traditional ruler, Igwe Max Ike Oliobi and the President General of the community’s town union, decided to parcelate the land and sell out to investors from the community for development.
The monarch had recently addressed a gathering of the community’s general assembly in a meeting, saying the decision was even reached before his ascension to office over a year ago, adding that he saw sense in the decision and bought into it.
But obviously, some people in the community are not happy with the decision.
During the protest, the women threatened that if the state governor, Prof Soludo, did not urgently intervene and address their challenges, they will have no other option than to embark on naked protest against the community leadership.
The women stormed the State Government House along the Enugu-Onitsha expressway Awka with placards calling on the state government to end the activities of the traditional ruler and the town union executive, adding that if the leadership do not stop selling the community land, the actions might trigger a communal war in no distant time.
The placards reads; “the leadership of Nimo Town Union Development must go, Nimo Town Union Leadership is our subject therefore has no right to sale or negotiate our land”, among others.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the protest, Mrs. Ifeoma Ezeozue, who spoke on behalf of the women, said the protest was against the way and manner their ancestral farm lands are being sold out indiscriminately without future consideration. She accused the leaders of turning the community into their personal property, alleging that the leaders were also using security personnel to harass and intimidate anybody, especially, the youths that spoke against their order.
According to her, “Nimo ancestral farm lands are being sold out indiscriminately without our notice. We don’t longer go to farm because, there is no more land to farm. They want to force us into prostitution. They have declared sit-at-home in Nimo community, because, we now wake up everyday and stay idle at home without any engagement. Farming is one of our major source of livelihood in the area. So, our coming here today, in front of the State Government House, is to register our vulnerable conditions before the Governor to help us address the problem. We want peace in Nimo community”.
The protesters were however able to use their number and the noise generated by their presence to get the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Solo Chukwulubelu, to address their pleas. Chukwulobelu appealed to the women to remain calm, assuring them that the state government under Prof Soludo will address their demands without delay.
Meanwhile, the Nimo Town Development Union (NTDU) has reacted to the protest, describing the protesters as hirelings, who were organized by some desperate elements in the community.
National Publicity Secretary of Nimo Town Development Union (NTDU), Sir Clems Ebele Ezedinachi in a reply said: “We wish to let it be known that those behind the protest are a few elements in the town who are disappointed that the administration of Nimo affairs is no longer business as usual. Let it be put on record that our traditional ruler has no involvement in the sale of any land. The Anambra State Law has clearly stipulated the duties of the palace and the town union and so has it been in Nimo.
“The Nimo General Assembly approved the plotting and sales of portions of Owa Land years ago which is being implemented now and headed by a committee of competent individuals. Monies realized from the sales are to be channeled into developing the town, of which the ongoing Civic Centre is the first beneficiary. But these disgruntled elements would rather want a communal land to be shared individually for them to probably use the proceeds to fund their passions.”
The community leadership added that those who went on the protest were mostly youths who are disenchanted because their exuberance in taxing developers have been put in check.
“It is a fact that youth restiveness is now the norm in many communities where they have become a law unto themselves and dictating to people who build houses how much to pay them. This is injurious to government’s clarion call for people to return home and develop the state. We therefore once more apologize to the state government for the continued embarrassment caused it by these pernicious elements who are part of the problems being experienced in many communities.”
A senior member of the community told THISDAY that the problem rocking the community was complex, as community leadership had been seen as a means of enriching oneself, which the current leadership has been able to stop.
According to him: “We have lawyers who were practicing in Lagos, who abandoned their law practice to return home to join village politics, just because of what people are getting from it. But in all fairness, this current administration, from the monarch to the president general have been very transparent in their dealings, but of course, you know that some people who were making money from these, have lost out, and they are the ones organizing protests.”