By Emmanuel Acha
Enugu – The people of Obeagu Ugwuaji Autonomous Community in Enugu South Local Government Area on Friday protested the arrest of their traditional ruler, Igwe Christopher Nyia by the police.
The protesters numbering no fewer than 500, carried placards with different inscriptions such as “Stop troubling our traditional ruler”, “Our traditional ruler is innocent”, “Land grabbers should leave our traditional ruler alone”.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, Chief Boniface Ani, the community’s Traditional Prime Minister, said the traditional ruler was a victim of conspiracy by land speculators from the community.
He said that Nyia was arrested by a team of policemen from the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (FSARS) led by ASP Mathew Alli.
According to him, the traditional ruler had refused to fall to the intimidation of some members of the community whose interest was to grab land.
He said the group of persons living large at the expense of the community were behind the arrest of the monarch.
“These persons have been intimidating him with the FSARS for refusing them to sell our communal land, as we speak, the monarch is in their custody.
“They have always used Alli to disrupt the peace in our community by constantly harassing the traditional ruler,” he said.
Also, Mr Linus Nsude, Secretary-General, Ugwuaji Town Union, said that they were hugely concerned about the safety of the monarch.
Nsude said that the traditional ruler committed no crime by his insistence on preserving the collective inheritance of the people.
“We appeal to the state government to intervene in this matter and stop these individuals who want to mortgage the future of our children by selling our communal land,” he said.
Mr Damian Ebien, who represents Obeagu in the Council of Elders, said that the entire community was strongly behind the monarch and his insistence on protecting the peoples’ collective inheritance.
“All we have told you here are the reasons for this arrest, every other thing they tell you are mere allegations,” he said.
When contacted, Alli, who incidentally is the Investigation Police Officer (IPO) of the matter, said that he had no hand in the travails of the monarch.
Alli said that only the police prosecutor could speak on the matter as the traditional ruler would soon be arraigned.