The Police Command in Ebonyi said it arrested 16 persons including a Lebanese over alleged breakdown of law and order in the state.
The Police spokesperson in the state, Mrs Lovett Odah made the disclosure to newsmen in Abakaliki on Thursday shortly after a protest by people of Akpoha community in Afikpo North Local Government Area of the state at the command.
“We received a petition from some stakeholders of the community over a land deal with a Lebanese company by a section of the community.
“We intervened to avert a blood bath between rival groups in the community and we have commenced investigation into the alleged ‘business deal’ with a view to finding solution to the issue,” she said.
The police spokesperson said that the land in question was in dispute.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters comprising elderly men and women besieged the command over mass arrests of their kinsmen and an expatriate by a combined team of security operatives.
The protesters, who though led a peaceful protest, alleged that the security agents invaded their community, arrested and whisked away anyone they caught over an alleged mining deal they entered into with a Lebanese mining company, Asphalt Unit Construction Ltd.
The leader of the aggrieved villagers, Mr Emmanuel Mba-Isu, alleged that the combined team of security operatives including the police stormed the community on May 22, harassed and intimidated the villagers especially women and the elderly.
“Security operatives loaded in three Hilux vans stormed the village and started arresting the residents. We later learnt that they came on the orders of the Ebonyi Government.
“We have met with the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) with our lawyers and she said that there was a petition from some persons in the community alleging that the company did not obey government’s new mining rules in the state.
“But we know that it is not true because we have a lawful business deal with the company.
“My people were pummeled, embarrassed, intimidated, harassed, and unlawfully arrested.
“These people have their license from the federal government and we gave them ‘Community Consent’ and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in line with the extant mining law,” he alleged.