Awka – The Traditional Ruler of Umuchukwu Community in Orumba South Council Area of Anambra State, Igwe Kenneth Maduka, has said he is willing to sheathe his sword and make peace with members of his community whom he alleged, had taken extreme actions against him and the community.
Igwe Maduka was responding to a recent protest embarked on at the State Government house in Awka, by women of Nkerehi otherwise known as Umuchukwu Community on Wednesday.
The women protested over what they described as harassment, intimidation and assault on them by the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Kenneth Maduka and his brother, Dr Godwin Maduka.
All clad in black, the protesters displayed placards with unprintable inscriptions about the royal father and Dr Maduka, a Governorship aspirant in the state.
The leader of the women, Dr Maureen Igwike, narrated how the traditional ruler and his brother, Dr Maduka had allegedly made life unbearable for them, using thugs, noting that they now live in fear in their own town.
According to her, their only crime was their refusal to agree to their oppressor’s decision to change the Community’s name.
“Initially, we thought that this was a problem between the men but recently, we began to see all manner of violence perpetrated by Igwe Maduka against our women.
“On the 7th of January, this year, they came to look my husband but they did not meet him. When they did not see my husband, Basil Igwike, they took me to an unknown destination and started beating me. Kenneth himself wanted to rape me because he tore the shorts I was wearing. Thank God I was on my menstrual period so he couldn’t. It took the intervention of one Okechukwu Ogubuike to save me. I can give you his contact so you can call him and confirm,” she said.
She appealed to the state government to come to save them from the hands of their oppressors.
“We are calling on the government to come to our aid before Godwin Maduka will kill us. We are no longer safe in that community. Our women and children are at risk and they now kidnap our children. So, government should please come to our aid,” she pleaded.
Other protesters who included Joy Anulobi and Augustina Okeke, expressed the fear that they may even face more grave consequences when they get home as a result of the protest but said they had to take the step to cry out to government to know what has been happening in the community.
They alleged that they ignited the wrath of their oppressors when they insisted that the Community should not be renamed from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu.
Addressing the protesters, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Chieftaincy and Community Liason, Barr Vera-Queen Okonkwo promised that the state government will wade into matter, adding that in the interim, security agents will be deployed to ensure safety of citizens in the area.
“I want to thank you women for the way you conducted yourselves peacefully during this protest and I want to plead with you people to remain law abiding. Government has heard your cry and will intervene. No one has the right to marginalize anybody in this state and Governor Willie Obiano will not allow that to happen under his watch,” she assured.
Meanwhile, when TNC correspondent contacted the traditional ruler of Umuchukwu, Igwe Maduka, he said the allegations were fueled by envy and jealousy by some members of the community, who were bent on ensuring that the community remained in darkness.
According to him, the issue in fact was not just about the change of name, but an age-long hatred for the Godwin Maduka, through whom he noted, the community has seen the light.
“What you saw in Awka was just one of the antics of these group of people who do not wish for our community to progress.
“It is on record that up until the year 2000, our community was in total backwardness and the children did not progress. Even those who left for greener pastures returned and money was contributed for them to be able to go back. In the entire community, as at then, only two people had cars. All we could boast of was a huge deposit of native doctors and shrines.
“That was the case until we began to ask questions and seek the face of God and after a general liberation, God answered our prayers through Dr Godwin Maduka who singlehandedly, transformed our community, providing infrastructure and empowering people to pursue their dreams- and that was when the trouble started. These set of people were envious why he would be the one doing all these and they started plotting so many evils against him and myself but to the glory of God, we have defeated them in all the court cases. We even extended a hand of brotherhood to them, yet they persisted in their evil doings,” he recalled.
The Royal father made it clear that the decision to change the name of the community from Nkerehi to Umuchukwu, came after the liberation, by the majority in the community, based on recommendations to turn around the fortunes of the town for good.
“It was after the prayers that the man of God asked that we change the name since no one could specifically say the meaning of ‘Nkerehi’. We then chose Umuchukwu which was eventually affirmed by a referendum, during which the community members voted massively in support of the change. This happened during the regime of former governor Peter Obi while Dubem Obaze was the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters. Still these people decided that they will not rest. Today, our community has about 25 court cases instituted against us by these people and we have won 20 of them. The former Commissioner of Police in Anambra, John Abang had severally intervened on this matter, but whenever the decision does not go their way, these people accuse whoever is involved of having taken bribe,” he narrated.
Igwe Maduka however said, despite all the wrongdoings against him and his brother, he is willing to embrace them as brothers in the best interest of the community, urging government to look critically into the matter to be able to find the real truth.