Two villages in Ohaisu community of Afikpo North Local Government Area in Ebonyi State have been divided over the involvement of Governor David Umahi’s appointee in the crises that rocked the area.
Some parts of Amangwu and Amamgbala villages were recently involved in a dispute, leading to alleged arrest and detention of some youths from Amagwu village at the State Police Command in Abakaliki.
Prompted by the development, Amangwu villagers, numbering over 100 on Monday stormed the State Police Command headquarters, Abakaliki, on a peaceful protest to demand for the release of the youths whose arrest they described as unjustifiable.
The protesters, more of women, accused the state Chairman of Universal Basic Education Board, Chief Hyacinth Ikpor, of masterminding the unwarranted arrests.
Ikpor hails from Amangbala village, which is a neighbouring village to Amangwu.
The Amangwu protesters carried placards with various inscriptions, including: “Let there be Justice in our community”; “UBEB Chairman, can’t you make peace in your community?”
They alleged that they no longer sleep with eyes closed owing to the high level of intimidation, harassment, indiscriminate and unlawful arrest of youths of the village.
According to them, not less than 17 youths from the village are in police custody over fictitious allegations and called on the police authorities to free their children without delay.
Chika Dike, who spoke on behalf of the protesting villagers, said they were being persecuted by Ikpor and his loyalists from the village for trying to rebuild their village toilet.
Dike accused the State UBEB boss of leveraging on his political advantage to intimidate them, a development, he noted, was against community spirit.
Meanwhile another group from the area, same day, made up mainly of youths, staged a counter protest denying the allegations levelled against Ikpor by their counterparts.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Every community has a leader”; “Opia Ehugbo (Ikpor’s traditional title ) is our leader”; “Elections are over, those who committed any crime must face the law”; “Opia Ehugbo must remain to represent us in UBEB.”
The Youth President of Amangbala village, Austin Ekuma, who led the group, explained that they decided to embark on the protest to warn those he described as All Progressives Congress elements from Amangwu village to desist from instigating crisis in the area.
Ekuma said it was mischievous for the former protesters to have accused Chief Ikpor over the arrest and detention of anybody from the village, insisting that he had no hands in the matter.
According to the youth president, those in police custody were arrested as a result of their alleged involvement in criminal activities and wilful damage of people’s property in the village.
Ekuma insisted: “These APC people are causing problem in our community and elections are over.
“They are destroying people’s houses and other valuable property.
“So, we are urging them to desist from that.
“That’s why we are protesting.”
Reacting to the allegations in a chat with journalists, Ikpor denied having hands in the arrest and detentions of anybody from Amangwu village.
He affirmed that those arrested were as a result of their involvement in the violence and unwarranted destruction of people’s property in the area.
He further described as laughable the protesters’ accusation that he was persecuting them for rebuilding their toilet and urged the public to disregard it as flimsy excuse for their inordinate acts.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Loveth Odah, could not be reached for comments before filling the report as she neither received nor returned calls.