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Killing, maiming, looting in Ojiegbe, Ndiegede

In Nguji Ojiegbe Onunwakpu and Ndiegede, Igbeagu autonomous community, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, peace has eluded the residents following killings, maiming and looting of properties in renewed boundary crisis between the two neighbouring villages. UCHENNA INYA reports from Abakaliki

The people of Nguji Ojiegbe Onunwakpu and Ndiegede all in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, have been having issues since 2012 over land matters. In that 2012, the people of Ndiegede were accused by Nguji Ojiegbe of encroaching on their land. But the Ndiegede people claimed that the land they were accused of encroaching belonged to them.

The two villages clashed that year with some persons killed and properties worth millions of naira destroyed. Since then, the two neighbouring communities have been managing their relationship until Wednesday July 15, when it became clear that they have not settled their differences. On that day, two persons were killed and property worth millions of naira destroyed. Over 10 houses were destroyed while 15 bundles of zinc, gallons of red oil, other house properties were allegedly carted away in Nguji Ojiegbe village.

The incident came after the state Commissioner for Border, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha, visited the villages. Emegha was represented by Head of Department of the Ministry, Ifeanyichukwu Igurube. Stakeholders of Igbeagu Community accompanied him to the visit.

They inspected the contentious land and ordered the two warring groups to steer clear of the land until government declared its stand on it. But few days after the visit, two persons were killed. Those killed included 24-year-old Sunday Odom, a native of Ogbodo Onunwakpu and Emmanuel Uguru from Ndiegede village. Narrating on the incident, the father of one of the deceased, Odom Abama, regretted that his son, Sunday Odom, who is neither from the two warring villages was killed in a cold blood.

He explained that his son went to farm to meet his sister, who was harvesting cassava within the boundary area, where both villages shared boundary and was attacked by Ndiegede youths, who shot him on the waist, which led to his death. “I was in my farm that afternoon when a report came to me that my 24-year-old son with name, Sunday Odom, who just married with oneyear- old daughter was shot when he visited our farm to assist those who were there to harvest cassava. “Then, I asked of his whereabouts.

The person said that he had been rushed to the hospital but later died leaving his little girl with nobody to care for and we are begging state government to come to our aid” he said. Also Speaking, Ogbodo Onunwakpu Village Head and member Eze-in-Council of Igbeagu Community, Chief Mbam Nwambam Ekpegbe, condemned the incident. He noted that Ndiegede once had similar boundary dispute with his people years back and it was settled and wondered why his innocent kinsman was attacked by the villagers. He condemned youths raising arms against their brother village over an issue he said that was already before the government.

He appealed to the state government to rescue the people who had made several attempt to delineate the land but to no avail. One of the victims, whose house and rice farm were destroyed, Ominyi Fabian, explained that the boundary disagreement between the two villages has lingered for over nine years and had attracted traditional council of the community, including traditional ruler and his cabinets to ensure that peace reigns among the two villages. He said the stakeholders of the villages divided their land into two portions and gave Ndiegede some part but they insisted taking the whole area as theirs.

“On that fateful Wednesday, I was coming from farm when I heard gunshot and I quickly rush back from where I was coming from until normalcy returned to the area and on inspection, we discovered that all our houses within the Azungele area have been burnt down”. “My own buildings were destroyed including the property inside the rooms and they went to my rice farm and cut down rice stems”, he said. Secretary of the Igbeagu stakeholders’ Forum, Chief Jonas Ibaki, condemned the incident, describing it as barbaric and inhuman.

He regretted that despite the government’s effort to resolve the crisis, the people took up arms against each other and urged them to sheath their swords. “I must commend the Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution for his intervention.

Though, it is unfortunate that after the traditional ruler of Igbeagu autonomous community’s effort to bring this matter to an end, it lingered to this stage. “Regrettably, we are here facing Ukele war and our governor has had sleepless nights in order to bring peace at the border. Unfortunately, after few weeks of the Commissioner’s visit with tension doused, a boy from a nearby village called Ogbodo Onunwakpu, few distance from the warring villages was shot dead.

“We don’t know what happened but according to their report, those that killed him are from Ndiegede, and these are people who intermarry and do everything together as brothers and sisters. “So, we are calling on the state government to quickly intervene and show a clear boundary to the two villages which is the solution to the crisis for two persons have been said to had been killed”, he said.

On his part, Nguji Ojiegbe village Head, Chief Innocent Igbahu, said after the Commissioner’s visit, his village received a court order which they were awarded N20million for trespass on their land and award of the same land to acclaimed group. According to him, after reporting to the office of the Commissioner of the new development, the group invaded their farm land, an area the government warned against trespassing, which he said, resulted to the recent hostility that claimed some lives.

Meanwhile, the traditional ruler of Igbeagu Autonomous Community, His Royal Highness, Eze Micheal Ogbonna Ukwa, faulted the action of both villages for taking arms against each other and for impatience to hear from the state government after their intervention. The traditional ruler, while commending the team for their support and effort in bringing permanent peace in the area, urged them to quickly demarcate the two villages, which according to him, would serve as a permanent solution to the rift.

 

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