From Uchenna Ezeadigwe,
Women numbering over fifty from Nkerehi community in Orumba South Local Government Thursday staged a peaceful protest over the deepening crisis rocking their community.
The protest took place at the Government House, Awka following alleged incessant cases of kidnap, maiming and destruction of properties by suspected thugs, which according to the women, were being sponsored by Dr. Godwin Maduka, a PDP gubernatorial aspirant.
News Echo reports indicate that Nkerehi community was changed to Umuchukwu solely the action of Maduka and a contentious referendum conducted on January 7, 2008 by the Anambra state government. The community had known no peace as a section of the area vehemently opposes the change
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the protest, the leader Oriaku Mabel alleged that since 2007, Dr Maduka had kept most of the community members against their will by having a purported change of name which was not totally agreed by the community.
“We refused because we have a reason to answer Nkerehi and since then he has been killing our husbands.
When someone dies at Nkerehi, his thugs will be sent to take charge destroying any posters, burning houses and cars that bear Nkerehi in sight.’’
Another protester and victim of the abuse, Dr (Mrs) Maureen Igwike narrated how she was attacked and the matter taken to police station backed with petitions but nothing has been done till date.
“When the attack on 7th happened, we reported to Umuchukwu police station, ex-commissioner of police SP John Abang invited us to the office on 11th February which we honored the invitation. According to her, the DPO narrated how everything happened although she accused the commissioner of not wanting to threat the matter.
“Even when I made frantic efforts to speak, he shunned me down and ordered that he will let me know when to talk. Though, he further promised that he wants everlasting peace and not crisis to lead but up till now nothing was done. As at that time my face was still swollen and then thereafter we wrote a petition but nothing has come of it, so we decided to seek the government intervention”, she added.
She alleged that Kenneth Maduka the younger brother to Dr Godwin Maduka after beating her up vowed to terminate her family and nothing will happen because they have police at their palms.
The wailing protesting women were dressed in black depicting that they were mourning. They carried placards with inscriptions like “Godwin Maduka, change of name is not by force”, “Godwin Mmaduka has forcefully taken our lands, we now live in fear”, “Anambra state government please come to our aid,” we are Nkerehi and not Umuchukwu, among others. They called on the Anambra State government to come to their aid and put an everlasting solution to the lingering crisis.
Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Community and Town Union Matters Barrister Mrs Vera Queen Okonkwo, thanked the Nekerehi women for conducting a peaceful protest and equally reassured them that Governor Willie Obiano’s administration has zero tolerance for intimidation, noting that everybody has freedom of association, speech, religion among others.
Barrister Okonkwo promised them that she will relay their message to the governor as soon as possible expressing optimism that favorable action will come from government to ameliorate their plight.
Meanwhile, when News Echo visited the Dr Maduka campaign office in Awka for reaction over the allegation leveled against him, we gathered no tangible reaction but were assured by the secretary that journalists will be contacted for a press release on the matter.