The Enugu State Police command, on Sunday, foiled the celebration of New yam festival by some members of Ibagwa-Nike community in Enugu East local government area of Enugu state.
Members of the community interviewed said that the problem started on Saturday when the preliminary activities towards the Sunday festival commenced with other cultural events which the police interrupted causing confusion in the community.
The police was alleged to have swooped on the celebrants on Sunday morning with teargas used on the community members, dispersed the celebrants and took their canopies to the divisional police station.
Our correspondent who visited the scene of the crisis saw police vehicles stationed at the market square but refused to speak on the matter.
The State Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Lawal, said that the problem was that some members of the community holding the parallel New Yam festival have an issue with the State Criminal and Investigation Department, CID, which the police needs to deal with.
One of the leaders of the Community from Umuanekeode clan, Mr. Valentine Eke however said that the problem was that the community was divided between those loyal to the traditional ruler, HRH Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu and his own clan who are of the opinion that the monarch was draconian in his leadership of the community.
Eke said that if the community was at peace with the monarch, there wouldn’t have been any issue of parallel New Yam festival in the community.
The community’s Chairman Board of Trustees, Chief Iyke Ngwu, accused the Commissioner of police of using anti-robbery unit of the state police command to detain the leaders of the community to fulfill his agreement with their Monarch despite a subsisting court order.
“The use of Enugu State police commissioner, Abubakar Lawal and the divisional police officer in charge of Unity Police Division, one SP Eze by Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu of Ibagwa Nike to stop the entire Umuanaekeodo and the greater Ibagwa Nike community from celebrating their New Yam festival despite judgement and order of the Court of Appeal is an aberration,” Ngwu said.
In his reaction to the crisis, the Monarch, Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu said that if it was an individual feast, there wouldn’t have been any problem, but that the community had celebrated New Yam Festival in the year, adding that the celebrants were causing crisis in the Community.
Igwe Ugwu said that there was a perpetual court injunction against the individuals holding community parallel New yam festivals.