The people of Edendiagu village of Ishi-Ozalla, Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, on Thursday, took to the streets in their numbers, after they were allegedly ostracized by a section of the community.
The protesters carried placards with the inscription: ‘Say No to Ostracism’, ‘All we Want is Peace in Ishi Ozalla’, ‘Enugu is our State, Stop Dividing Us’ and ‘Resurgence of Caste System in Ishi-Ozalla is an Act of Greed and Wickedness’.
They are accusing a former minister of being behind their misery.
The villagers marched from the Enugu State House of Assembly to the Enugu State Government House where Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was said to have described the said ostracization as a hoax.
Ugwuanyi was quoted as saying that such practice had no place in the State.
Recall that Ishi-Ozalla Automomous Community had been in turmoil following the alleged label of the people of Edeaniagu as outcasts and their subsequent ostracisation by the community.
But the Governor described such alleged pronouncement as a practice which do not exist in the state, adding that the state government would take the necessary steps to restore normalcy in the area.
The Governor was also said to have suspended the March 22, 2021 proposed election to fill the kingship stool in the community, which was at the centre of the crisis.
According to the governor, a people in crisis cannot be allowed to go into such election, adding that peace should be paramount.
Briefing journalists, the leader of the group, Chief Munachimso Okoye, said that they had gone to notify the Governor about a looming crisis in their community.
Okoye, a priestess of Edeaniagu village, described the current situation in their village as ominous, adding that it needed urgent intervention of the state government.
She said that their community had been without a king since the death of their traditional ruler, Igwe Frank Nweke in 2012.
She said that the community had known no peace since then as some prominent politicians had hijacked the administration of the community.
The priestess said that their late traditional ruler was the father of a former minister of information , Mr Frank Nweke jnr.
She said that the crisis was instigated by some of the political bigwigs in the community who wanted to become kingmakers.
Okoye said that the constitution of Ishi-Ozalla Development Union empowered any of the 12 villages in the community to field candidates during the election of a traditional ruler.
She said that their trouble started when Edeaniagu village nominated one Sylvester Nweke to contest the traditional stool.
“This did not go down well with a prominent politician in the community who instigated the rest of the people to tag us as outcasts and subsequently ostracised us,” she said.
Okoye described Edeaniagu village as an aborigine and the first settlers in Ozalla clan, adding that it was demeaning to tag them as outcasts.
“How can a single person instigate the ostracism of a whole village and put a law that anybody that talks to us will either be banished or pay a fine of N200, 000?
“This is against the law of the state and if we do not stop this type of practice now, then I do not know what they will call our children,” she said.
Okoye appealed to the governor to impress on the Ministry of Chieftaincy Affairs to put off the election to enable the various interests iron out their differences.
The protesters numbering over 200 were going earlier received by the House Committee Chairman on Chieftaincy, Mr Ezenta Ezeani.
Ezeani assured them of the intervention of the legislators to ensure that the right things were done in the community.