The leadership of Onuogba-Nike Development Union in Enugu East local government area of Enugu state has denied the media report that it was against the conduct of election after expiration of its tenure in office.
It also stated categorically that the leadership of the community had no hand in the killing of 15-year-old girl, who was reported to have been hit by stray bullets allegedly fired by hoodlums, who attacked the community in the night of Monday November 2, 2020.
Earlier media reports alleged that the girl, identified as Chinagorom Anike was shot dead following a protected leadership tussle in the community.
The reports claimed that the young girl was allegedly killed when a group of thugs loyal to the development union chairman, Chief Emma Uboshi, invaded the compound of her uncle, Chief Emeka Anike, who was opposed to his (Uboshi) leadership.
But addressing a press conference on Sunday in Enugu, the leadership of the union led by Chief Emmanuel Uboshi and Chief Ngwu Onyekachi, Chairman and Secretary respectively, denied the report, saying that the Community had through its General Council earlier passed a vote of confidence on their leadership to continue their second term of four years.
Chief Uboshi explained that his predecessor, Chief Emeka Anike, who resides in Lagos State on hearing the decision of the General Council, opposed it and launched an opposition with some members of the community insisting that the decision would not stand.
He alleged that because of “pecuniary interest” they sued their leadership to court seeking to quash the decision of the Council, adding that the matter is still pending.
He said: “After several interventions, despite the fact the matter is still in court, my leadership agreed to conduct election for peace to reign. The election was subsequently, fixed for March 28, 2020 but was postponed two days to the election by our traditional ruler, Igwe Gabriel Oko, who said the postponement was based on state government ban on social activities at the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In August when the government lifted the ban on social activities, we approached the traditional ruler and Ministry of Rural Development and begged them to come and conduct the election. But our traditional ruler and Chief Anike said they will not accept the Committee they had setup and ratified by the community to conduct the election.
“The ministry, however, directed us to liaise with the traditional ruler to ratify the Committee and reschedule the election.”
Uboshi regretted that since August, Chief Oko had refused to apply the provisions of the community’s constitution to conduct the election. Instead, he said, the royal father decided to appoint people from other villages to come and conduct the election, a move they rejected.
He wondered why the traditional ruler would accuse his leadership of thwarting the conduct of the election “when he is the one delaying the election with the sole aim of instigating the people against us.”
On the unfortunate incident of Monday November 2, that led to the alleged killing of Chinagorom Anike, Uboshi said, “on Sunday November 1, 2020, my leadership went to the Igwe to know what was delaying him from setting up the committee to conduct the election. All the parties including our opponents were supposed to be in the meeting but unfortunately, Anike and his group did not show up.
“Igwe Oko, elected to brief them on the outcome of the meeting. Surprisingly, on Monday November 2, 2020, Chief Anike send group of boys to stop individuals who had purchased plots of land in the community from developing them, claiming that my leadership had been dethroned and therefore, must pay another development levies to them.
“So, unfortunately, my people went there and they clashed. Through the intervention of Chief Oko, the matter was settled and everybody went his own way.
“Regrettably, around 11pm in the night, I was called that some hoodlums came into the community and while they were shooting sporadically, bullet hit little Chinagorom.The caller told me that the girl was rushed to hospital while our Neighbourhood Watch went after the hoodlums since the police was not there.
“In the morning I received an unfortunate news of her death. As I speak to you, my leadership is working assiduously to unravel and bring those behind the attack to justice.”
He appealed to the state government to urgently intervene and ensure that the election was conducted without further delay to forestall crisis in the community.
But reacting Igwe Oko, said he was not responsible for the delay in the conduct of the town union’s election.
Oko said that some natives, who were not in agreement with the purported approval by the General Council of the community that Uboshi’s leadership should continue their second term in office without an election, went to court to challenge the legality.
“The truth is that their (Uboshi’s) tenure had elapsed on April 2019 and they were afraid of losing the election. They want option A4 but their opponent wants open secret ballot system which I accepted to ensure that there will be peace after the election in the community.”
He said that was Whig Uboshi had allegedly thwarted every effort made to conduct an election in line with the constitution of the community.
Also reacting, Chief Anike admitted that he had been pressing for the conduct of election in their development union according to their constitution.
“For a while now we have been having issues with our town union leadership. Their tenure expired in April last year. I have been pressing them to conduct an election but from one issue to the other, they have not been able to do that.
“We have been fixing different dates for the election but they could not go through because everyday they come up with different reasons why the election will not hold. That is my grouse with them and they (allegedly) sent boys to come and kill me. When I escaped, they turned their gun on nice.”
When the Commissioner for Rural Development, Chief Emeka Mama, was contacted he could not be reached as phone rang out.
He also did not respond to text messages sent to his phone at the time of filing this report.