Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has imprisoned more members of the Igga Community in the Uzo-Uwani LGA of Enugu State over a land struggle with Herbert Ukuta, the community’s king and ally of the governor.
Since their arrest for participating in the sale of the community land without the knowledge of Ukuta on May 22, the arrested persons have spent almost three months in an Enugu prison.
“Raphael Iyambo, Titus Okeke and Bartholomew were arrested on May 22 on the cooked-up offence of attacking a local police station and destroying properties,” a community member, who asked not to be named, told FIJ.
“But after petitions were submitted to the Inspector General of Police, CID Enugu, the charges were dropped for Raphael and Titus, only for them to be included in the case involving Nwachukwu and Ennanya.”
On April 27, FIJ reported the arrest and detention of Okonkwo Vincent Nwachukwu, a lawyer and member of the Igga Community, by Ugwuanyi over the tussle. The lawyer was imprisoned alongside Ikechukwu Ennanya, a lung cancer patient who died after developing pneumonia in prison and was charged for causing war in the community.
The source said that the case which ought to have been heard months ago had been adjourned repeatedly, the most recent adjournment being from July 27 to October 9 because the judge did not show up. Also, the application for the bail of the arrested individuals has been denied.
Onwurah Cyril, President of the Igga Progressive Union, the community’s youth association, said that community members had been making efforts to ensure the release of the arrested individuals.
“It was our effort that caused the first charges against Raphael and Titus to be dropped. We had to write to the Inspector General of Police who instructed the then Commissioner of Police, Muhammed Aliyu to look into the matter,” he said.
“The problem started when the community constitution, certified by the Enugu State Government under Sullivan Chime, was not followed, and an Igwe was selected by the governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.”
Cyril stated that the community was following legal steps to secure the bail of the arrested persons, but the involvement of the government and the manipulation of the judicial system had been making things tough.
FIJ could not speak with Ukuta on the phone, as his number wasn’t reachable. The Chairman of the Uzo-Uwani LGA has also not responded to the messages sent to him.
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