Abbi Community, in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State has been thrown into a battle ground following an alleged power tussle between some indigenes of the community and the Vice Chairman of the council, Mr. Maxwell Odoakpa, a native of the community.
On the other side of the battle are some indigenes led by a renowned herbalist, Emmanuel Udoji.
DailyPost reports that within the last one week, no fewer than 12 houses, including a police post, have been set ablaze.
A resident told newsmen that trouble started when Udoji planned the commissioning of a police post he built for the Nigerian Police without informing the Vice-Chairman of Uzo-Uwani Council, Mr Maxwell Odoakpa who is from the community and his father Igwe Isaac Odoakpa, the traditional ruler of Ezi-Ikolo.
he source hinted that the Vice-Chairman, who sees himself as the chief security officer of the community, became infuriated over the planned commissioning of police post without his approval, saying the herbalist arrogated powers of government to himself.
The crisis has already forced some residents to relocate to neighbouring towns over fear of reprisal attacks.
Speaking on the incident, the herbalist said he had written a petition to the Enugu State commissioner of police over the wanton destruction of properties and possible loss of lives in the area.
The herbalist told our correspondent that he had to petition the police as he had virtually lost everything he laboured for adding that even his life was continually under threat.
According to him, “what actually happened was that armed robbers were disturbing people along Nrobo-Abbi road for a very long time now, then I made efforts to set up a police duty post and neighbourhood watch to check the excess of robbers in the community.
“Before I embarked on the projects, I consulted the traditional ruler of Ezikolo HRH Igwe Isaac Odoakpa and the town union of the community; everybody gave approval to the projects. I did not just embark on the projects because I can do it. The police duty post has the community approval.
“Why do they not stop me when the police post was being constructed? The next thing was that the Vice Chairman of Uzo-Uwani Local Government council, Mr. Maxwell Odoakpa who incidentally is the son of the traditional ruler of Ezi-Ikolo in Abbi community misinformed the chairman of the council Mr. Onwubuya Cornell that the police duty post was aimed to intimidate and harass people.
“I was made to understand that the chairman instructed that the police post be shut down. What I now saw was youths in their large number, with gallons of fuel and other dangerous objects, pulling down my estate of 11 houses, before they set it ablaze.
“They ransacked my residence, and carted away cash and other valuable property running into millions. My offence was that I built a police duty post and set up police assisted neighbourhood watch for the community”.
The petition written on behalf of the herbalist by his lawyer, Mr. F. J. Nwodo added that “The reason for this gruesome attack is that Chairman of the Local Government was wrongly informed that our client has attracted police post and organised Neighbourhood watch for his own advantage only, thereby taking over some powers of the Local Government Chairman.
“The Local Government Area acting without calling both sides gave approval of the destruction, boasting that he is the government and nothing shall happen”.
However, when contacted, the Chairman of Uzo-Uwani Local Government Council, Mr. Cornell Onwubuya said that he was yet to be informed of any development in Abbi community.
“How can I fuel up crisis in an area I am the chief security officer? My Vice Chairman is from Abbi community and he knows everything about the crisis in that community”, he stated.
Also, the Vice Chairman when contacted said neither the council nor youths of Abbi community instigated the crisis, adding that people of Nrobo, a neighbouring community had claimed that the police post was a trespass on their land.
“As I speak with you, one Simon who lives in Ghana has admitted before the Enugu State commissioner of police that he set the police post ablaze. He threatened to do more if the native doctor failed to stay away from his land.
“Right now as we speak, he is being detained at Enugu State CID for arson”, he said.
The Enugu State Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amarizu, DSP, when contacted, said he was yet to be briefed on the arson.