Akoliufu Community leaders and other well meaning sons of Alayi in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State have called on security agencies to expedite action on investigations into the burning of the Alayi family house of a former lawmaker representing Bende Federal Constituency, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje.
The call by the community leaders and others is coming on the heels of the demand by members of All Progressives Congress in Bende Local government Area for the release of their members arrested in connection with the incident, with a warning that the incident must not be politicized.
In the early hours of Tuesday, March 1, 2022, the family home of the ex- federal lawmaker, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, went up in flames, leaving in its trail, a partially burnt house and two Porsche cars turned to carcasses, among other valuable properties destroyed in the inferno valued at millions of naira.
Narrating how the incident happened, a security man on duty on the fateful day identified as Mr. Chukwudi Ihendu, said some gunmen jumped into the compound around 1:30 a.m on March 1, 2022, and set the house ablaze.
He revealed that two sports utility vehicles, two electric generating sets, and parts of the building were burnt down.
“I was at my duty post when the unknown gunmen jumped into the compound and pointed their gun at me and ordered me to lie down. They poured fuel into the two vehicles in the compound and set them ablaze.
“They also broke into the building and set it on fire. While the fire was burning, they whisked me away from the compound on their motorcycle to a nearby junction, burnt Hon. Nnenna’s flex banner. After that, they released me.”
Akoliufu Community leaders who came with Ihendu, while briefing newsmen in Umuahia, launched an appeal for thorough investigation into the arson.
They demanded for a painstaking investigation to unravel those behind the burning of the country home of Chief Nnenna Ukeje, describing the arson as barbaric, which, they claimed, was alien to the community as Alayi was not known for violence and destruction of lives and properties.
President-General of Akoliufu Alayi Development Union and Vice President, Alayi Development Union, Chief Uchechukwu Kalu, called on the state government and security agencies to urgently intervene and uncover those behind the incident and bring them to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
Traditional rulers from the community, including His Royal Majesty, Ukeje Philip of Amaeke Alayi, and Eze Ignatius Uche, expressed displeasure over the incident, saying it was unusual in the community.
They called on those nursing grudges against each other in the community to seek peaceful resolution of their differences rather than embarking on acts capable of destroying lives, properties and peace in the community.
Also, the current member representing Bende Federal Constituency at the National Assembly and Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, has frowned at the incident and sympathized with the family of Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje.
Kalu, while reacting in a statement, called on the security agencies to investigate the dastardly act.
“Security investigations will reveal next line of action,” the federal lawmaker stated.
On his part, the Minority Leader and Member representing Bende North Constituency in Abia State House of Assembly, Hon. Chijioke Chukwu, condemned, in strong terms, the wicked act on an illustrious daughter of Bende, stressing that such action was not in the character of Bende people.
The Abia lawmaker called for a thorough investigation into the incident and the perpetrators be made to face the law.
A close aide to Ukeje who spoke under anonymity, condemned the development, noting that the shocked female politician was yet to understand why her home was attacked.
The aide described the attack as “wicked and callous because Hon. Ukeje is a woman of peace who has uplifted many of her constituents during her days at the National Assembly even up till date.”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned against politicization of the incident and calling for the release of their member arrested in connection with the incident.
The Abia State Secretary of APC, Mr. Perfect Okorie, in an interview with newsmen, called on Hon. Nnenna Ukeje, not to associate the party with the alleged burning of her father’s house in Alayi, alleging that it was a ploy by the ruling PDP in the state to decimate the APC.
Okorie said the party sympathizes with Hon. Ukeje if indeed anything happened to the house being paraded as razed down, but insisted that no APC member was involved in her predicament as was being alleged.
Mr. Okorie said the campaign was a desperate effort to pitch the people against APC in Bende where, he claimed, the party was most popular in Abia, insisting that any such moves would be resisted.
He challenged Hon. Ukeje and the PDP to provide evidence that members of the APC were seen in the vicinity of the burnt house before and after the incident. He warned them to desist from the harassment and indiscriminate arrest of APC members in the local Government.
“If you look at the video clip being paraded on the social media, the houses in the said premises are still standing and nothing happened to them.
“The upholstery is still intact, including the curtains. This begins to raise serious doubt on the veracity or otherwise of the claim.
“Yes the person alleging has shown clip of two vehicles burnt but the questions we will continue to ask is, are there no security men in the compound?
“If there are, have they been questioned on who did what as at when that purported incident occurred and where they gained entry from.
“These are serious questions that should be answered. Who was available when the incident happened? Did they see any APC member before or after?
“They should not be making spurious allegations against APC. We are a peace-loving party. We don’t engage in violence. In 2019, APC captured Bende Federal Constituency peacefully without bloodshed.
“We did it because the people believe in our party and our candidate, Hon. Benjamin Kalu. He is there, doing his job peacefully and delivering the dividends of democracy to his constituents.
“We are saying he should not be disturbed. His name should not in any way be associated with such evil claim” Okorie said, arguing that there was no nexus between Hon. Benjamin Kalu, a sitting member of the House of Representatives and Hon. Nnenna, a former member of the House who has not declared any interest in running for an election. “If there is any collision, it should be between her and her party members and certainly not with APC, not Benjamin Kalu who is focused on ensuring that democracy dividend reaches all nooks and crannies in Bende,” the Abia APC scribe said.
Mr. Okorie took a swipe at the PDP for holding power in Bende Federal Constituency for 12 years without a single project to show for it, warning the party to desist from smear campaign against Hon. Benjamin Kalu and APC.
He therefore called for the immediate release of all APC members arrested on the alleged instigation of Hon. Nnenna Ukeje and the PDP in Bende.
He, therefore, called on the law enforcement agencies to meticulously investigate the incident so as to unravel to truth behind it.
As at the time of this report, the Police and other security agencies were yet to make public their findings about the incident.