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By Masterweb News Desk
Nigeria Masterweb News team was there on Saturday, October 24, when Diaspora Anambra indigenes met for their annual convention in Washington D.C., U.S.A. The well attended Anambra State Association-USA (ASA-USA) ‘09 Convention took place at GayLord Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, Washington D.C., U.S.A. It brought many from across the United States and high profile Anambra dignitaries, which included Governor Peter Obi and Ex-Governor Chris Ngige to the world's 'first capital'. The convention hosted by the local chapter, ASA-Washington DC, reflected a non-partisan function which accommodated the major Anambra State gubernatorial aspirants and their representatives.
The opening address was read by ASA-USA national president, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze. ASA-USA’s central message was the security of life and property in the State as well as Free and Fair election in 2010. The convention went very well with different committee reports, including Medical Committee Report, Security Report and Education Report. The non-partisanship of the convention was brought to the front burner with all gubernatorial aspirants allotted time to speak. A Goodwill Message from Dr. Emmanuel Andy Uba by Hon. Tim Egboka was followed by another from Prof Charles Soludo, read by Hon Handel Okoli. Chris Ngige spoke to the applause of his supporters and the Executive Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Gov. Peter Obi ending the list. Obi spoke also to the applause of his supporters, telling the convention about his marshal plans for the development of the state. He said: "We went in and spent time organizing a plan for the development of Anambra state. We have the plan now."
Question and answer session was allotted to the incumbent's speech, which attracted about thirteen questions. Obi responded to the questions in three batches. He wrote down each question and after the first five, he responded to each, then took the next five and three, responding accordingly. One Nkerehi woman whom Masterweb later gathered was a leader of an Nkerehi women's group, could not get her question across to the governor before the question and answer session was abruptly brought to an end. A prayer brought the convention to an end to pave way to other activities on the agenda, which included lunch and gala night. Immediately the prayer ended and Governor Obi was about to leave with his aides, the Nkerehi Women leader crying and shedding tears ran to Obi with gruesome photos of mutilated Nkerehi victims. She pleaded with Obi to please allow her time to speak with him. Obi's aides tried to restrain her, with her saying: "Governor our people are being maimed and killed. Please help us." Chief Charles O. Okereke leading Masterweb News Team, pleaded with the governor to allow her an audience. Obi promised her an audience after lunch, which he redeemed as promised. Obi, Masterweb learnt, promised the woman during their meeting, he would look into the Nkerehi matter upon return to Nigeria.
Nkerehi is a restive community in Anambara State, Nigeria. Masterweb investigations reveal that nothing has changed in Nkerehi as at the time of this report. Many still live as refugees in neighouring communities, unable to make ends meet. The suffering of these people is unqualifiable according to reliable sources. Most Nkerehi people are subsistent farmers and petty traders, which is indicative of people at the margins of life. Their suffering is untold as they do not have access to their land nor basic shelter. The story has it that thugs marauding in Nkerehi beat up and maimed those in disagreement with the name change of the town to Umuchukwu. In some cases, victims were beaten to death. According to our source, the thugs were allegedly hired and paid by one Dr. Maduka, a U.S. based son of Nkerehi(Umuchukwu he calls it). Our investigations found out that Nkerehi people that fled the town for fear of their lives, have been in forced exile for over four months now. They include children, women and very old grandmothers and grandfathers. These young, weak and old suffer while the world watches. Some Nkerehi groups have several times petitioned the Inspector General of Police on the serious criminal and inhumane situation in the community without any response. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Thugs on rampage in Nkerehi 12/5/07 ( Photo Submission by Nkerehi Town Union - USA ) Click Adjourning Link For Enlarged Photo:- http://nigeriamasterweb.com/Etc/NkerehiThugsRampagingLarge.jpg
Masterweb spoke to Dr. Richard Igwike, a representative of Nkerehi Town Union - USA, who said that there were more than 112 Nkerehi families who have been refugees in the neighboring towns of Ogbunka, Owerre Ezukala, Nneato, Umunze, across Anambra and Nigeria for the past four months. The Nkerehi Town Union - USA spokesman was visibly in tears as he narrated the ordeal in their community. He alleged Nkerehi people were forcefully driven out of the town by one Dr. Godwin Maduka's armed thugs and militia because they refused the illegal change of the town's name to Umuchukwu, which means “Children of God” in English. He attributed Dr. Godwin Maduka's name change to his plans to bring a Catholic monastery to the town. Attempts by Masterweb reaching Dr. Godwin Maduka for his own side of the story were unsuccessful. Two phone calls were made Tuesday, January 5 and both times Dr. Godwin Maduka’s secretary said he was out of the office.
Last month in December, representatives of ASA-USA and other Diaspora affiliates, namely: ASA -South Africa, ASA Ireland and ASA-UK traveled to Nigeria for an assessment of Governor Obi's administration in terms of execution of projects. According to ASA-USA National President, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, their mission was to assess the level of the state's development, vis-a-vis projects completed or on-going, using an objective performance criteria to provide pertinent information to Anambra citizens as part of the association's contributions to ensuring accountability in governance. The team visited and inspected 112 of the 150 projects listed in Anambara government publication "The 3 years of Solid Accomplishment 2009". They included education, health, water, economic development, and skill acquisition projects. Others were government institutions and other infrastructures. The visiting delegation at the end of their tour gave Governor Obi a pass mark, which they said meant he was doing well in office.
Nkerehi might not have fallen within the specified mission of the Anambra Diaspora delegation. A visit by the delegation on humanitarian consideration would have raised the needed attention to the community of both Anambra and Federal governments. The delegation did not visit the troubled community even though handouts of the mayhem in the community were passed out to attendees of ASA-USA 2009 convention. Almost all attendees got copies, with the exception of those that came late and guests of honour on the high table. The handouts and a computer screen were the only goods at one of the vendor booths at the convention. The handouts were stacked on one side of the table and the computer screen on the other, displaying alternating photos of wounded Nkerehi victims. Unfortunately, ASA-USA Convention Security Report did not address the situation in Nkerehi which might have aided the non-intervention of appropriate authorities in resolving the crisis. ASA-USA should come out with a new Security Report that would include Nkerehi crisis. This would facilitate an end to the catastrophic human impasse in the community.
Anambra watches, Nigeria sleeps and the world is indifferent as Nkerehi boils and its people suffer and languish as refugees. Some lost their lives while the law slept to wake up as lawns over the graves of the dead in concealment of the punishable crime. Nigeria police should thoroughly investigate the mayhem in Nkerehi and charge to court all that are found guilty. Governor Obi should use his good office in resolving the Nkerehi impasse as soon as possible, to enable all refugees return to the comfort of their homes. There is nothing like home.
Photo Above: Okechukwu Onwuchekwa severely beaten up by alleged thugs 27/5/07. ( Photo Submission by Nkerehi Town Union - USA )
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