PALPABLE tension and near choas attended this year’s Nwafor festival of the Ogidi community in Idemili North following the death of a youth leader who allegedly made an attempt to escape police arrest and in the process met his untimely death.
The youth leader, Chike Okoye, was said to be evading the police who stormed his Umueze Alor to allegedly effect his arrest along with others following a land issue between the community and the Traditional Ruler of the town, Igwe Alex Oyido, while the town’s festival was at its peak.
As the story of the death of the young man filtered into the village, tension went high as scores of villagers ran to the youth’s compound but before their arrival, the corpses has been removed and taken to Iyienu Mission Hospital where it was deposited.
The irate villagers comprising mainly youths took to the roads, made bonfire with tyres barricading the ever busy old road Enugu/Onitsha and later made straight to Iyienu Hospital mortuary, brought the corpse to the Igwe’s palace and left if there.
Speaking on the incident, Chairman of the village and leader of the protesting youths Mr Obide Benedict said that, “the cause of the problem was the encroachment of the communal land( Ogbor land) by the town’s royal father and consequent construction of culvert and other forms of encroachment without the consent to the villagers which they are protesting, hence, he engaged the police to arrest the village youths in the course of which this boy died.
“We have dumped the corpse in his palace and demanded that he should release those he arrested, stop encroaching on our land and arresting us before the corpse will be removed”
“It was the police that the monarch sent to arrest him as he was about to evade the arrest in his house and was pushed down from the one -storey building and he died”, he revealed further.
Before the angry villagers could depart the palace of the monarch, it took one of the cabinet members of the Royal father, Chief Ugochukwu Okwosa ( Owelle,) to calm the failed nerves, urging them to keep calm and maintain peace as the death has happened and as such should be amicably settled.
“You should see it that the death has happened and what we need now is solution for a peaceful settlement as brothers”, he pleaded.
It took the president general of the town, Chief Chuka Onubogu who arrived the Palace to remove the corpse back to the mortuary.
He described the incident as unfortunate and urged the bereaved to take heart as it was not an intentional act.
On the part of those still under detension, he said that, “they will soon be released, I have talked with the CP and he assured me that they will be released immediately”
Reacting to the development, Igwe Onyido expressed sadness that the death of the young man has changed his Nwafor Ogidi festivals mood from good to bad, pleading with the bereaved family to accept his condolences as he did not mean any harm to any of his subjects, since he is the father of everybody, both the stubborn and the gentle ones.
Igwe Onyido said that Benedict Obide was earlier arrested by the police for malicious damage, “I constructed a concrete slab to make a certain road passable and the kindred who owned the land, out of mere suspicion that I (Igwe) wanted to take their land away from them, decided to take laws into their hands by demolishing the concrete slab, which necessitated the arrest of Obide and which attracted the protests.
“When the youths demanded for the release of the detained leader, I obliged them by calling on the CP and DPO to release him but because the DPO said he would release him the next morning, the youths went berserk and took their protest down to the police station, which necessitated the hunting of their leaders and unfortunate death of Chike”, said the monarch.
As at time of this report, the State Police Pro, SP Haruna Mohammed could not be reached for comment on his phone line.