By Onome Oghenetega
The President-General of Ughelli Descendants Union (UDU) Worldwide, Chief Pius Omubaye, has described as false the allegation by members of the Cow, Goat and Pig Butchers Association that the Ovie of Ughelli, HRM (Dr) Wilson Ojakovo, Oharisi lll, has asked members of the union to pay ‘ground levy’ to him before they could operate in the area.
Omubaye, however, asked members and leadership of the association to quickly tender an unreserved apology to the Ughelli monarch and his people for the false alarm aimed at intentionally painting the revered Ughelli traditional ruler in a bad light.
The UDU President-General spoke on Saturday while reacting to protest and one-day strike by members of the union who falsefully accused the Ughelli King of asking members of the union to pay N3,000 and N2,500 for every cow and goat and other animals respectively butchered in the market.
He said the allegation was not only false but a calculated attempt to drag the name of the revered Ughelli monarch into public ridicule, which he said, the Ughelli people would fiercely resist by all means.
According to him, members of the unions had been collecting what they described as ground, rope and ladder levies running into several thousands of naira from customers without the knowledge of Ughelli Descendants Union (UDU).
The Ughelli chief said the said levies were not also being remitted to UDU which is the apex administrative body of the Ughelli people or any other body in the kingdom.
Omubaye said on discovering the collection of the levies, UDU demanded for a fraction of the levies which the leadership of the associations have been collecting from those doing business with them including indigenes of Ughelli Kingdom.
He explained that the matter was only brought to the notice of the Ughelli monarch who happened to be the grand patron of UDU and the livestock groups to mediate and resolve the seeming disagreement between the unions over the collection of levies in the town.
Omobaye said, “When we came into office, we tried to see how we could generate funds to run the union and develop the kingdom through corporate social responsibilities. And we decided to meet the butchers who are collecting ground rents from cow, pig and goat butchers.
“They Collect various types of money in the name of ground, rope and ladder levies. And we invited them for a meeting to let them know that we are the ground owners and that part of these moneys should be giving to us. And when it got to a critical position, we decided to meet HRM Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom to intervene and after several meetings.
“Initially they were collecting ground money N2,500 per cow, N1,000 per goat and N1,000 per pig. But after the final meeting, HRM decided that because of the economic situation they should bring the money down from N2,500 to N500 for cow and from N1,000 to N250 for goat and pig.
“The emphasis here is that this ground money is not part of the money they pay to buy these animals. It is the buyers that pay the ground money and so we the ground owners said give us a small fraction and they are saying no. Instead, they have gone haywire to the press to protest with a campaign of calumny against the Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom.
“HRM is not taking any money from anybody or the buyers, it is for the UDU and the Development of the Kingdom. There this protest is evil minded and ill-motivated and they have evil intention to destroyed the image of the Ovie of Ughelli Kingdom.
“So, we demand an unreserved writing apology and retraction of whatever misinformation they have given to the press or public from the Ughelli Butchers Association to his HRM and the UDU for trying to drag his name to the mud.”