In the Uruebo village in Nkwelle Ezunaka community of Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State Indigenes have lamented that over 60 of their youths have remained missing for months after a crisis emanatings from ownership of a landed property hit the village.
Chief Abel Okafor, an 89-year-old community leader, who was part of the villagers who came out to protest at the village square on Sunday, said three of his sons were also among those missing.
Chief Abel Okafor, who addressed newsmen during the protests, said besides the over 60 missing youths from the village, 11 others have been languishing in prison for about six months now, after security agents arrested them on the order of a Catholic priest, Ebube Muonso, whose real name is Reverend Father Emmanuel Obimma, who is also an indigene of the area.
Chief Okafor in his statement said, “Ebube Muonso brought a combined team of security men to our community and told them to arrest all the youths in the village. He said youths of the village were planning to kidnap him.
“11 young men were arrested for over six months now and have been languishing in prison. Youths of this community have all fled to unknown destinations, and since then, we have been looking for our children, including three of my sons,” he said.
Speaking on the crisis’s genesis, Chief Augustine Okadigbo, another community leader, said Charles Obimma, elder brother to Emmanuel Obimma, was elected leader of the village six years ago. After two mandatory tenures, he refused to handover.
“We suspect he wants to cling to power because he has been using his influence as the leader of the village to sell off landed properties owned communally.
“As we are here protesting, bulldozers are on the land, clearing it. We have said no to this, and the only thing his brother (Emmanuel Obimma) could do was bring in a combined team of security men, including military men, to arrest our youths for kidnapping.
“We know he is rich, and we know he is a powerful priest, but he should not use his influence to intimidate his own people. We are calling on the state governor to Wade into the matter and free us from this bondage.
“We are not begging him not to do his worse, because he has done so already, but let him stop thwarting the cause of Justice, as the matter is already in court,” they lamented.
Rev Fr Obimma when contacted for reactions, said he was unwilling to reacts, but urged that the reports be published as it is to his advantage.
“It is to my advantage. Army and police reports are ready already. So, those elders will join in the court charges for false information. I cannot be intimidated. I wanted to release them (suspects) based on people’s plea, but they are not remorseful, as you can see. Let’s see how all this will end. let them prepare for courts response.”
Some of the placards wielded by the protesting villagers read, “We want justice for the youths that were wrongly accused, Ebube muonso stop persecuting the people of your land, we are tired of Ebube Muonso and his intimidation,” among others.
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