Over 100 Ebonyi women protest half-naked over takeover of their mineral-rich land

Some of the protesters

Odogwu Emeka Odogwu

Women from Ndiezoke village in Igbeagu community in Izzi local government area of Ebonyi State numbering over One Hundred (100) has staged a protest half-naked over alleged forceful takeover of their land by a former traditional ruler of Igbeagu community, John Nwenyi, following discovery of mineral deposit in the land.

The aged women during the protest at Government House Abakaliki on Wednesday.
The aged women during the protest at Government House Abakaliki on Wednesday.

The aged women who stormed Government House Abakaliki to protest the forceful takeover of their land were joined in the protest by some men and youths of the village.

They tied palm fronds round their heads, robbed local white chalk (nzu) on their bodies, chanting protest songs to express their anger.

They carried placards with various inscriptions such as John Nwenyi should leave our land, John Nwenyi should be called to order, Our Governor should come to our rescue, Gov Umahi you are our last hope, etc.

Dr. Chris Nwogbaga, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said they embarked on the peaceful protest to register their grievances over the illegal encroachment into their land allegedly by the accused.

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Nwogbaga claimed that Nwenyi, who is a member of Ebonyi Elders’ Council, had been making repeated efforts to forcefully takeover the land since 2007.

He said his interest in the land followed the discovery of mineral deposit in the land.

“We have a solid mineral deposit in our village, which was discovered since 2007 and since then, we have somebody by name, John Nwenyi, former traditional ruler of Igbeagu.

“We have a common boundary with them. Since we discovered this mineral deposit, he has never allowed us to rest. Since 2016, he wanted to mine the mineral and we told him, no, that we are not yet prepared.

“He forced and forced himself and eventually brought white men with police and forced himself into the land to survey the land. We met him and told him to stay off the land.

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“He neither sought our consent nor that of the Governor. After that, we wrote an SOS, and copied the then, Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner for the Solid Minerals Development, the Governor, the Local Government Chairman, and our Traditional Ruler. They are all aware of this matter.

“Later, he came again with a bulldozer to enter the land by force, but we stopped him.
He soft-pedalled a bit and started again sometime in 2019.

“The Governor invited us and said that no person had the right to enter the land without our consent and nobody should mine at the place. We also met with the then Commissioner of police who gave us his phone number and instructed us to call him if any person enters the land without following the due process.

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“Since then, nobody entered the land until three days ago, we saw policemen and soldiers loaded in Hilux vans to the land and they are threatening the entire village, that’s why we came to notify the Governor through a peaceful protest. We are saying, enough is enough”, Nwogbaga said.

The protesters further appealed to Ebonyi Governor to intervene and call Mr. Nwenyi to order.

The State Commissioner for Internal Security, Mr. Stanley Okoro Emegha, who received protesters at the gate of Government House, commended them for conducting themselves peacefully, and assured that Government would address all their concerns within three days.

Efforts to reach John Nwenyi failed as his mobile number switched off, as at the time of filing this report.

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