Tension is mounting in Oru-Oboro Autonomous Community, the commercial hub of Ikwuano Local Government Area of Abia State, as the community is pitched against its traditional ruler over alleged mismanagement of collective resources and abuse of office.
Members of the community are expressing concern that the contest may degenerate into a breakdown of law and order with unpredictable consequences.
At the heart of the matter, according to our investigations, is the construction of four lockup shops at the community’s village square at the instance of the traditional ruler, HRH Eze Ralph Ogbonna. The shops are to be owned and managed by an individual.
According to various sources, members of the community, especially the apex governing body, were not consulted before the village square was given to an individual to build shops.
They are also saying that the village square is the collective heritage of all the indigenes and should not be used for commercial purposes, moreso being unilaterally given out by the traditional ruler.
An indigene who spoke to us said, “The village square is already the site of our town hall, and there is little space left. At present, there are no toilets in the town hall and that is what we are expecting to be done. Instead, the little space left was annexed for the building of personal shops. This is disrespect for the people taken too far.”
A visit to the site showed that the shops are very close to the town hall, a situation that denies the hall the benefit of ventilation, as well as making the interior much darker. There is also a water project beside the hall, which further constrained the space available at the square.
Another member of the community said everyone was hoping that the remaining space at the square would be used as relaxation spots for the people, especially as the square is also used for cultural festivals and social activities.
It was further gathered that the community held a conference in April to deliberate on the matter and other pressing issues. The conference voted overwhelmingly to have the shops demolished. A communiqué sighted by this medium showed that a delegation was mandated to visit the traditional ruler to brief him on the decision of the community.
However, construction work continued at the site in earnest, with people gathering in groups to discuss the issue.
Efforts to speak with Eze Ogbonna were unsuccessful.
When contacted on the phone, Mr. Okey Nwachukwu, the acting President General of Oru-Oboro Development Union Federated, the apex governing body in the community, said the people have made their position clear on the matter.
He urged all stakeholders to respect the will of the people, noting that there are lots of spaces and land in the community that people can purchase for commercial purposes.
“We are hoping that reason will prevail. We don’t crisis in our community,” Nwachukwu said.