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VILLAGERS LYNCH KINSMAN, INJURE POLICE OFFICER, DESERT HOMES

By NBF News
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One of the most cherished cultural heritage of the Obimo people, a rural community on the outskirts of Nsukka Urban is the taboo which forbids fellow Obimo person to shed the blood of another.

This cherished article of faith was desecrated recently when the people of Akachele village in Obimo allegedly murdered one of their own, Nwakonuche Eze a.k.a Dragon.

The bone of contention was a disagreement between Nwakonuche's master, Chief Sunday Ogbuke, over an increase in loading fee charge by Amachele village folks at a sand excavation site leased by Ogbuke.

Chief Ogbuke had leased a hill owned by Akachele people for a period of two years at a fee of N2 million and under the agreement, Akachele youths had the exclusive right to load tippers conveying the sand at a fee of   N 1,200 each.

The business had been going on smoothly until January 18, 2011 when the loaders unilaterally increased loading fee to N1, 600, an increase of    N 400.

The tipper lorry owners who pay the fee rejected the increase as arbitrary and unilateral, but the loaders stuck to their gun and would not allow the tipper owners engage the services of other loaders. The attempt by the tipper lorry drivers to bring labourers from outside was the beginning of the mayhem that led to the lynching of Nwakonuche, the injuring of the Divisional Crime Officer Nsukka Urban, Mr. Abrahim and the eventual snatching of his service pistol, which was later recovered, as well as the desertion of the villagers.

An attempt by Chief Ogbuke, a citizen of Obimo to make the loaders rescind their decision fell on deaf ears, prompting his recourse to the police to seek peaceful resolution of the matter.

However, unknown to him and the police, the loaders had mobilized the entire villagers for action and even engaged youths from a neigbouring community.

Daily Sun learnt that as soon as the loaders sited the policemen at the excavation site, their leader blew his whistle to alert others to the scene.

The DCO was said to have been attacked when he was addressing the villagers and?pleading with them to give peace a chance.

He was hit with a rod on his head and under the confusion, the villages rounded up the deceased whom they saw as a threat to their action as he was said to be a man of valour and full of strength.

His master, Ogbuke told Daily Sun that the deceased was later dragged to a shrine in the Akachele village square where they tied him to a stake and only left him when they thought he has died.

He disclosed that when they later discovered he was still alive, they came back again to ensure he was dead.

He said that the police, however, managed to rescue him alive after throwing tear gas.

However, Ogbuke said the victim later died at the UNTH, saying that 'he was bleeding from his nose, eyes, ears and mouth and was shouting for help and calling on the village deity to help him as he was running for his dear life.'

Hear what Chief Ogbuke said:
'I was in agreement with elders of Obimo to excavate sand from a hill with abundant deposit of sand. The business is my own and I decided what happens there. It was going smoothly since I started the business until Indian hemp smoking youths and their cohorts decided to make things difficult for me. A loader cannot decide for me how to manage my business, if he is not okay with my terms, he can quit. If the loaders decide to go on strike, it is none of my business. I can decide to use a pay-loader, but I allowed them to load the tippers to help them and many of them have benefited immensely from my magnanimity and that of the elders. When they increased the loading fee from N 1,200 to N 1,600 per tipper, they did not consult me or the tipper drivers who pay the fee. As a result, the tipper drivers rejected the increase as arbitrary and unilateral and insisted it should be discussed considering the present economic situation in the country.

This resulted in deadlock and the situation affected my investment since I need the excavation to be going on if I must recover my investment which is more than  N2 million, when my worker came to report the development to me, I went to the site to plead with the loaders, but they refused and would not allow the tipper drivers to use pay-loader. I went to the elders to report the development; they condemned the attitude of the loaders and asked me to do whatever thing legal I could do to ensure that the business is going on because they too have a share of the business according to the agreement. Just to make peace, I reported to the DPO, Mr. Muri who gave me some policemen led by the DCO, to go and plead with the loaders to load the tippers at the original fee of N 1,200 while the increase would be discussed later among the parties. As the DCO was addressing them they mobilized and blocked the pay-loader, attacked the tipper drivers and smashed the windscreen of their vehicles.

'Unknown to us the loaders had involved the entire villagers of Akachele, men?and women, old and young, including some people from a neighboring village of Nkpologu. Before we could know what their plan was, their leader, one Chidi Ugwoke blew a whistle and the villagers emerged from their hidings and assailed us. They hit the DCO with a rod on his head and snatched his service pistol. They closed in on my site manager, the deceased Nwakonuche Eze and assailed him with all kinds of offensive weapons and stoned him until he collapsed. Thinking he was dead, they left him, but when later they noticed he was still alive, they came back to drag him to the village square, bound him feet and hand, tied him to the stake. He was only rescued half dead by the police when they released tear-gas on the crowd. It is painful that our policemen are forbidden to fire a shot even when their lives are in danger. I regret that all efforts made to save Nwako's life were abortive.

'I call on the police to arrest the other accomplices whose names were furnished by the only one person arrested by the police. It's an abomination in Obimo for an Obimo person to see the blood of another let alone kill him. There is an existing tradition which requires that anybody who killed another in Obimo should also be killed.'

Commenting on the incident, the Divisional Police Officer, Mr. Jacob Muri confirmed the death of Nwakonuche Eze, disclosing that one suspect has been arrested in connection with the Obimo mayhem.

He frowned at the action of the villagers for taking the law into their hands, saying that but for restraint on the part of his men who were provoked the police would have opened fire on the villagers as a reprisal.

Muri said police have spread their drag-nets to round-up those responsible for the Obimo unrest.

DCO Abraham showing the injury inflicted on his head when he led the team of policemen to the troubled excavation site to Daily Sun, said his attack was unprovoked since he was detailed by the DPO to make peace between the parties. 'I have every reasonable excuse to order my men to shoot, but I restrained myself despite the grave nature of the wound inflicted on me,' he told Daily Sun.?HRH Igwe Spencer Ugwoke, the traditional ruler of greater Obimo, could not be reacted as he was said to have travelled to the United States.