The Town Union and Council of Elders of Atani community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra otherwise referred to as Ndi-Ichie Atani, has dismissed as baseless and malicious the allegation by one Chijioke Mbanefo that attempted to link the Chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area, Mr Arinzechukwu Awogu and the traditional ruler of Atani Community, Igwe Azuka Ngoddy to the death of one Egbunna Mbanefo who died at a building site in Atani on April 1, 2021.
The elders who in separate sittings at the palace of Igwe Azuka Ngoddy and the palace of Late Igwe Chukwujindu heard the petition brought against Chijioke Mbanefo, and ruled that it was mischievous linking the Council Boss and Igwe Azuka Ngoddy with the death of Egbunna Mbanefo.
Chijioke Mbanefo, in an online publication had alleged that Hon. Awogu and Igwe Azuka Ngodi were masterminds of Egbunna Mbanefo’s death because of interest they have in transactions over a parcel of land that was under dispute.
According to the publication, the land in question was purchased from Ogene family of Umuonwuachu family of Umuoniha kindred.
Chijioke Mbanefo claimed it belonged to the entire Umuoniha Kindred and the deceased was a member of the family claiming that the parcel of land belonged to the larger Umuoniha kindred not Umuonwuachu family before he was allegedly murdered.
Awogu said he was dismayed over the allegation linking him with the death of Egbunna Mbanefo explaining that he was not involved in the death or alleged murder of the deceased adding that he did not know him apart from the fact that he was identified as Atani man.
Awogu said this before Atani Community Elders-in-Council and Town Union Leadership at the palace of Igwe Azuka Ngodi and palace of late Igwe Chukwujindu where he petitioned against Mr Chijioke Mbanefo for false accusation and defamation.
He said the allegations against him were strange and spurious as he learnt of the incident in the social media, adding that as a human right activist who had pursued justice for people who died under questionable circumstances and could not have been involved directly or indirectly in the death of anybody, let alone a kinsman.
He also clarified that the purchased land was for an Agro firm which needed 5,000 hectres of land out of which 110 plots of land in question was bough from Ogene family and not 150 plots as alleged neither was it for his personal purposes.
“I have not come to speak about the rightful owners or otherwise of the land from where I facilitated 110 plots for an Argo-Allied company, as the Customary Right of Occupancy as well as the Certificate of Occupancy have all been issued to the Agro-Allied by relevant authorities.
“I can only urge the families as I have always done to continue on the path to having a meeting-point in resolving all disagreements they have over land, fishing ponds and sundry issues.
“I am also not here to speak about the cause of death of Mr. Egbunna Mbanefo as the police homicide section is in a better position to investigate the circumstances of his death and take appropriate actions.
“I do not know who Egbunna Mbanefo was, and had no reason to contemplate discussing harming him. Like most people, I got to know of the incident of his death on April 2, in Atani Community Platform (a Whatsapp group).
“Let me also state that I was not aware of any police investigation before now on Mr. Egbunna Mbanefo’s death, talk more of stopping the investigation or ordering the police not to arrest suspect(s), the Atani DPO and the Area Commander are there and can be reached for details.
“I present for citing, the letter to my office by an Agro-Allied Company requesting for a 5,000 hectares of land for mechanized farming, the Anambra State Ministry of Agriculture was aware of this letter,” he said.
Awogu said that it was not brought to his attention as at the time of negotiating for the land that any dispute existed and when he later learnt initiated discussions for the families for amicable resolution of the dispute and wondered why anybody would want to blackmail him with the death of Egbuna Mbanefo.
Awogu said the claim that he compensated the Ogene family for the land by making one of their sons a Councillor was baseless as there was no connection between the Ward-political process that produced the Ward Councilor in 2019 and land transaction that was done in 2020.
He decried the absence of his accuser, Chijioke Mbanefo at the Community public hearing, saying that he decided to inform the community of ploy to tarnish his hard earned reputation and that he would use every lawful means to seek redress over Chijioke Mbanefo’s malicious publication.
“The state of mind of Chijioke Mbanefo calls for reexamination whether or not he is of stable Character. Nobody in his right frame of mind schemes to make money from the death of a human being let alone ones own dead relative, but Chijioke Mbanefo has done exactly that.
“Your Royal Highness, Ndi-Ichie Atani, I chose to start my quest to seeking redress through this open hearing so that when finally action is taken against Chijioke Mbanefo nobody will accuse us of not informing the Atani Community and its leadership of Chijioke Mbanefo malicious and defamatory publications against my person.”
Speaking on behalf of Igwe Ngodi, Chief Daniel Nwabueze noted that Chijioke Mbanefo was duly served the summon and wondered why he would ignore an invitation to a place where he could state his case.
Nwabueze who is the (Asi-Eze) said Atani as a community would follow up the matter with every seriousness. He said that Chijioke has refused to honour previous invitations extended to him, that the community would invite the Police over Chijioke Mbanefo’s defamatory publications.
When contacted, Chijioke Mbanefo said he received the summons but refused to honour it because of personal reasons and maintained that he will not honor any invitation by the community.
Mbanefo said he dragged Awogu and the traditional ruler into the matter because they did not act when the death of Egbuna Mbanefo who was his uncle was brought to their attention.
Reacting, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, Police Public Relations Officer said the matter had been reported to the police and it was being handled by the State Criminal Investigation Department.