Community leaders in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area, Anambra State, have pleaded with Governor Chukwuma Soludo to protect them from ongoing intimidation and harassment of locals, which is purportedly being carried out by security personnel.
Following the Thursday invasion of Nteje by alleged security personnel, they made the decision on Friday in Awka during a news conference.
Seven people, including Chief Benneth Chinweze, the acting President-General of Nteje, were gravely hurt by the security personnel, according to the community’s spokesman, Mr. Martins Okechukwu.
Okechukwu said, “Apart from our president-general, who is now lying critically ill in the hospital, one Oluebube Anukwu, who was among the seven persons that sustained gun shots is now dead, while five others are receiving treatments in different hospitals.
“Before now, Nteje has been a peaceful community, but in the past 10 years now, all that we are facing are incessant attacks and arrest of our people, who in some cases, are taken to Abuja where they suffer grievously.”
Okechukwu who blamed the ugly development on some natives mentioned one Chief Mike Nwakalor as the person fanning the crisis due to his interest in land grabbing activities.
He said that the Nteje community today has about four army checkpoints which some privileged individuals take undue advantage to harass the residents.
The acting President General of Nteje, Chief Benneth Chinweze, who spoke from his hospital bed in Awka, when our correspondent visited the hospital, said he had a harrowing experience in the hands of the security men on June 16.
“I was driving when, suddenly, some persons who all covered their faces double-crossed my vehicle and ordered me out.
“They forced me into their Hilux truck, tie my legs and hands and blindfolded me before they began to give me treatments like a common criminal.
“This incident took place on Thursday, June 16, but it was on Friday, June 17, that I regained consciousness in a hospital.
“As you can see, I cannot raise my two hands up or use them to eat and bath, I am just helpless here as you can see,” he said.
Chinweze who doubles as the regent of Nteje Community, added that he suspected that it was Chief Mike Nwakalor that was behind his ordeal.
”Before I lost consciousness, the people beating me kept saying, you always insult Chief Mike Nwakalor and if you don’t respect yourself, we will teach you bitter lesson,” he added.
When contacted, Chief Mike Nwakalor said he was not involved in the problem which occurred in Nteje on June 16 and do not have any hand in land grabbing activities in Nteje.
“As a community leader, I heard what happened and upon investigation I was told that Chief Chinweze wrote a petition and when security operatives came for him, he tried to evade arrest.
“I further gathered that those who were wounded by gun shots blocked security operatives and in the exchange of gun fire some of them got injured,” he said.
Nwakalor, however, explained that he was also not involved in any land dispute with any person in Nteje, saying, ”I have 200 plots of land between Nteje Park and Umunya and the property is not in dispute because I have my certificate of occupancy.”
Reacting, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said that the command was not aware of the matter which occurred in Nteje on June 16.
He rather urged people of Nteje who were affected in the matter to come up with information that could help police in nipping the matter in the bud.
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