By Chinedu Adonu
ENUGU State chapter of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities, JONAPWD has demanded justice over the demolition of the house of 66-year-old visually impaired man, Anibueze Nnadi in Ihekwuenu-Aku Autonomous Community Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area.
The Chairman of JONAPWD, Enugu State, Comrade Onyebuchi Mba, made this demand while briefing newsmen in Enugu on the plight of the blind man. Mba said Nnadi’s house, which was still under construction, was allegedly first demolished by Christopher Okwor, the traditional ruler of Ihekwuenu-Aku Autonomous Community in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Areas of the state.
According to him, Okwor claimed he is the owner of the land where the two-bedroom apartment was being constructed for Mr. Nnadi by a philanthropist, Okechukwu Ezemagu. Mbah said the building was nearing completion when it was pulled down by hired thugs, a matter the former Governor of Enugu State, Mr Ifeanyi Ugwuany waded into and suspension of the traditional ruler.
He said the historical reports indicate that the land currently being utilized by Okwor for his residence was generously given to his family by Nnadi’s family as an act of benevolence.”Subsequently, the government established a committee led by Mr. Batho Eneh, which concluded the investigation and submitted a report to the former Governor.”Unfortunately, the recommendations have not been implemented.
The police also became involved, and they arrested the traditional ruler, who pledged to rebuild the house but did not fulfil his promise.”Despite the delays by the former Governor’s committee reports, members of Ezemagu’s family and the conscientious citizens of Umuezike resolved for the second time to construct a new house but Okwor and his family allegedly attacked the workers on the project,” Mba said.
Calling for justice for Nnadi, the chairman, said “on October 8, around 1 am, while Nnadi was still sleeping, a group of boys invaded his house, brought him out, attacked him and demolished the house again.
“We strongly condemn in totality the unrelenting demolition of Nnadi’s house, who is a visually impaired man with prostrate related health issues.
“It is deeply concerning that such a vulnerable member of society has been subjected to such a callous and heartless act,” Mba said. He further said the contemptuous act by Okwor violates the United Nations and African Union Charter including the 2018 National Disability Act and 2023 Enugu State legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities.
According to him, the demolition of the building is a violation of India’s basic human rights and It is unacceptable that he should be subjected to such mistreatment and injustice in his community.
“We call on the relevant authorities, human rights and civil society organisations to take immediate action to ensure that those responsible for this appalling act are held accountable for their actions.
“We urge community leaders to come together to support Nnadi and ensure that he is granted the protection, assistance, and restitution he deserves,” Mba pleaded.
Speaking to journalists, Nnadi said he was sleeping inside the house on October 8, when a group of youths invaded his house, forcibly removed him, bound his mouth and eyes, undressed him, subjected him to severe physical abuse, and proceeded to demolish the structure once again. When journalists visited his house, Okwor refused to attend to them saying he did not have any appointment with them. He ordered them out of his compound.
“Did I invite you, to leave this place this moment,” Igwe thundered. Meanwhile, the Enugu State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Mr Okey Ogbodo, said the State Government, had set up an investigative panel to look into the matter. He also said they would make their report public as soon as the panel completed their investigation.
“I held a meeting with the two sides on Wednesday and we are appealing for peace on both ends or doing things that will aggravate the matter.
“It is a communal matter and we want to find out the root cause of the problem,” Ogbodo assured.