Tension in Anambra as police fire tear gas at children, women protesters

The Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and Abba community in the Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State was thrown into commotion on Thursday ...

The Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and Abba community in the Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State was thrown into commotion on Thursday as policemen attacked protesting children and women.

The policemen fired tear gas at scores of the protesters who had gathered to protest against a certain moneybag in Dunukofia for allegedly taking over their land

The demonstration turned violent when the police fired tear gas at the protesters, who scampered for safety.

The operatives were said to have arrested 12 of the protesters and a female journalist, who was dragged away for taking pictures of the protesters.

Herald Nigeria learnt that the protesters had gathered as early as 6am on Wednesday to register their displeasure over the protracted land dispute with their Ukpo neighbours.

But the police officers blocked the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and the road leading to Abba, and ordered women coming to the community’s market to go back.

However, the women reportedly called the bluff of the police and mobilised to resist the order.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, a community leader, Obinna Chukwuma, noted that the land dispute started in 1963 with several court cases allegedly going in favour of the Abba community.

Chukwuma said, “Abba is a peace-loving community, but it is under siege. We have been living in harmony with our neighbours, but all of a sudden, a moneybag from our neighbouring community, Ukpo, decided to take over our land by force.

“That is why the people are protesting. We don’t have arms; we are not fighting anybody. We just want the world to know what is happening.

“It is unfortunate that someone, who feels he has so much money, is using it to intimidate us. Look at the large number of policemen firing tear gas at innocent people and women, who wanted to go to our market.

“We are going to use peaceful means to let the world know what is happening in our community. We know that the person we are dealing with is highly connected and he has been boasting that he has security people on his payroll.

“On January 15, the Supreme Court delivered a judgment that all the parties to the land dispute should go back to the High Court because records of previous rulings on the matter were missing and cannot therefore be enforced. That is what we have done as a peace-loving community.

“We have gone back to the court and filed a case and July 8, 2019, has been fixed for hearing. Our neighbours know all these, but chose to pursue the matter illegally.

“We are demanding that due process should be followed. The land is not running away. If eventually they win in court, no problem, but let due process be followed.”

But on his part, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Haruna Mohammed, said the trouble began when court bailiffs with some police officers went to the Abba community to serve a Supreme Court order on the disputed land.

Mohammed stated, “When the people saw them, they started gathering and shortly after, they started throwing stones at the policemen and bailiffs.

“Minimum force was used to disperse them and in the process, 13 of them were arrested and taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department headquarters.”

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