Traditional Ruler Decries Destruction, Looting Amid Battle Against Land Grabbing


In a harrowing account of violence and intimidation, His Royal Highness, Eze Ishmael Okechukwu Nweke, the traditional ruler of Onyeishi-Ala Chokota in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, has revealed the extensive destruction of his property and the grave threats to his life following his outspoken opposition to land grabbing in his community.

Eze Nweke detailed the traumatic events that unfolded at his residence, where armed hoodlums wreaked havoc, destroying his home and looting valuables worth millions of naira.

According to the monarch, these attacks were orchestrated by a group of cultists acting like thugs, armed with guns, machetes, and other weapons, who stormed the village of Umuakonu, Chokota, chanting war songs and spreading terror.

“a group of cult boys operating like hoodlums invaded my community, Umuakonu, Chokota in Etche Local Government Area, Rivers State, chanting war songs and slogans, armed with guns, machetes, bottles, rods, etc, ” Eze Nweke recounted

“They went to the youth leader’s house, saw him and matched him, slapping him with their machete and took him to their leader’s house and made him lie face down. Thereafter, they moved straight to my palace, forced themselves into the compound, and gave notice to everyone living there to quit or have themselves to blame. They broke bottles on the premises and left.

Royal Highness, Eze Ishmael Okechukwu Nweke
Royal Highness, Eze Ishmael Okechukwu Nweke, [Source: Nweke]

Despite the monarch’s immediate call for police intervention, the response came too late to prevent significant damage. Eze Nweke’s account also included a tragic confrontation in a neighboring compound, where an armed altercation led to the death of one of the attackers, a known land grabber from another community.

Property Destroyed
Destroyed Prosperity [Source: Nweke]

The root of the violence, according to Eze Nweke, lies in his persistent efforts to stop illegal land partitioning in Chokota.

“Some boys from my community, most of whom played active roles when the communal land was partitioned and shared in 2009, 2014, and 2019,” he explained.  “Last year, invited other known land grabbers to clear and repartition the said community land which had no internal or external boundary dispute. We are trying our best to stop them to no avail.

” They are working in concert with the Police, including cult boys or groups, and native doctors, that is the thing. They left where they were operating in the bush and came to the community and entered my palace without provocation and I was not around. They broke everything and looted properties worth millions of naira, so, that’s what happened.

The monarch expressed frustration over the lack of police action against the known perpetrators.

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They asked why should I join in stopping them from grabbing the community land. That is why should I join in petitioning them to the Inspector General of Police, Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Oyigbo Area Command, and even to the DPO at Umuebulu police Division to come after them. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, the police could not arrest any of them. So that’s their grievance against me.”

In response to the escalating threats and violence, Eze Nweke sought assistance from the Army GOC at Bori Camp, resulting in a team of dedicated security personnel being deployed to pursue the culprits.

We made a report to the Army GOC in Bori Camp, requesting security intervention. With this particular action, we were able to get a team of dedicated security men that are going after them. The current situation right now is that we have been able to apprehend one of them and the others are at large, but they are looking for them.

“We have managed to apprehend one of them, but the rest remain at large,” he noted. “They have threatened my life multiple times, declaring that I am their main obstacle and must be eliminated.”

Source: Nweke

The traditional ruler has issued an urgent appeal to security agencies and the state government to intervene decisively in the crisis engulfing Chokota Town.

He emphasized the severe impact on the local community, where fear of violence has disrupted farming and land sales, leading to economic hardship.

“My people can no longer farm, and those with land in Igboh Etche cannot find buyers,” he lamented. “I urge the security agencies and the Governor of Rivers State to declare a state of emergency in my area to safeguard lives and property. We need immediate intervention to restore peace and security.”

Eze Nweke’s poignant plea highlights the dire situation faced by his community and underscores the urgent need for action to curb the activities of land grabbers and ensure the safety of residents.

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