Since 1996, it has been war, sorrow and destructions in Ndiheme and Ndiobasi villages, Ihe Autonomous Community of Ishiagu, Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State over a deity and piece of land in the community. UCHENNA INYA reports on the latest destruction in the area in which houses, vehicles and other valuable properties were touched during the melee
Ndiheme and Ndiobasi villages in Ivo local government area of Ebonyi state are too close that one can differentiate between them. Only a small entrance road to the two villages demarcated them.
The people are so close that they speak same language, inter-marry and do so many things in common. They have been living in peace until 1996 when things went wrong and they started having dispute which has become protracted.
Then the people of Ndiobasi started accusing the people of Ndiheme of stopping the blessings from a Deity in Ndiobasi which the people adore. The Ndiobasi people saw the deity-a goddess as their creator which is source of blessings and progress for them. They accused Ndiheme people of stopping blessings accruing from the goddess.
Hence, they allegedly decided to evict them from the area. But the Ndiheme people refused to vacate the community on ground that it is their ancestral home and trouble began.
The Ndiobasi people allegedly attacked the Ndiheme people and destroyed their properties. In the latest attack, more than 20 houses were damaged including those under construction, livestock were killed and machete injuries inflicted on some of the residents. Two persons Mrs. Patricia Mbam and Chibuike Kela fell unconscious and sustained injuries. Our ordeals-victims A 64-year-old retired School Principal in Ndiheme, Chief Madukwe Ikechukwu described the problem between the two tiny villages as protracted dispute.
“It has been a protracted dispute. This thing started as soon as Ebonyi state was created in 1996 when Linus Ukachukwu was appointed Chief of our community. Since then, the people of Ndi Obasi saw it as opportunity to drive us away from the community to take over our land.
“They have been accusing us of taking the blessings they were supposed to be getting from the deity they worship in the community. They have been insisting that we must park away from the community so that the blessing that is due to them can come to them.
They have been doing everything possible to ensure that we go away from here. “I am appealing the federal and state governments to come to our rescue because we are homeless, we are destitute now, we are refugees, we have no place to stay, we are now squatting in schools and open market places. I am appealing to our Governor to come to our aid because if nothing is done, they will kill us and that is their intension. They want to wipe us out of this earth. They want to drive us away from here so that they will take everything and this is our ancestral home since time immemorial.”
Another retired School Principal, Chief Ifeanyi Madukwe who is the village head explained that the dispute metamorphosed to a land dispute. He alleged that the Ndiobasi people have been encroaching on their land and that it started after their two wealthy brothers were killed during the Nigerian civil war. He accused the Ndiobsi people of constantly destroying his house and that of his younger brother any time they attack them.
He however called on the state government to come to their aid, adding that their entire livelihoods have been destroyed. “The hatred has been there and this helped them to encroach on our land when they discovered that some of our fathers and brothers have died especially two of our wealthy brothers who were killed during the civil war.
This time around, they saw it as a very big opportunity to deal with us and this is not their first time of coming here to destroy our things. They have destroyed the house of my younger brother, Madukwe Cletus and the case is still pending in court till now. We had a land matter with them and a judgment was given and we appealed against the judgment and served them notice of appeal. We also served them stay of execution and they still went ahead to commit this blunder.
The judge granted them the land they claimed to be Ibida land but the land we sued them for is ulogo land not Ibida. It is our neighbouring community which is in Abia that has the land that is known as Ibida and not them. So, falsely they said they are the owners and court granted that but the court didn’t ask them to drive us away from this village,” he said.
Narrating his experience on the latest attack in the village, early morning Sunday, Madukwe alleged that their attackers would have wiped them off but for divine intervention. His words: “it was a very horrible experience, I have never see thing like this in my life. This is the worst experience in my life. We were woken up around 12:15am.
This was as result of the noise and the sound of big objects like sledge hammer, big iron rods, axes and other dangerous objects they used and attacked us and destroyed our buildings.
“We ran out. As our attackers were trooping down with their search light, we ran into the bush and they did these havocs on my house; they damaged my two motorcycles, they killed the biggest goat in my house and then went down and killed another goat and a sheep in another person’s compound. They destroyed about six doors in my house and my father’s house and destroyed eight windows including that of my mother’s.
They rushed down to my new building and destroyed all the blocks that I mould, they destroyed the building proper that is yet to be completed. So, they ravaged the compound. They also injured some of my people. “We are appealing to the government to come to our rescue, our lives are in danger and we are very few in number here. We have been living here since time immemorial and none of our grand fathers mentioned the time they came here to life.
So, we don’t even know the exact time that we have been living here, we don’t know the date. These people are not happy that we are living here and they claim that we are obstructing the pathway to their shrine called Osu and that we deprive them of the blessings accrued from there; that wealth, children that we are the people that are obstructing them from reaching them.”
A woman, Mrs. Kela Benadette Patricia also narrated her experience thus: “we were in deep sleep when we started hearing smashes of windows, doors and vehicles and I rushed to see my old mum of about 90 years and I saw her very tattered and confused. I too was confused with my younger brother’s wife, carrying a little child with her. I didn’t know who to hold among us.
They smashed everywhere, smashed entrance gate to our compound and forced themselves into the compound. They smashed GP water tanks, vehicle windscreens and other things inside our compound.
“That night, we ran into the bush and since then, we have no place to stay, we have no home to stay as you can see. I am appealing to the Governor to come to our aid, otherwise these people will kill us.”
Meanwhile, about 12 persons were arrested in connection with the destruction. The 12 persons were paraded at the weekend by the state Commissioner of Police, Philip Sule Maku.
He declared one Barrister Kennedy Agbai from Abia state wanted over the incident. He explained that three locally made single barrel guns. one double barrel gun, five Live cartridges and two expanded, two machetes, one Search light, four sledge hammer, one wooden hammer, one digger, a box of snuff and a phone were recovered from the suspects.
Maku said “on 30/08/2020 based on a distress call from one Madukwe Cletus Ifeanyi a native of Ishiagu in Ivo LGA of the State that a group of people were destroying houses and properties of Ndi-heme community in Ivo LGA of the State . Following the report, the police operatives swung into action and arrested twelve suspects.
“The suspects made useful statement to the police and narrated that they are all natives of Amahiba in Isikwato LGA of Abia State but were hired by one Barr. Kennedy Agbai to Ndiheme Community in Ivo LGA of Ebonyi State to renovate his buildings in the area which include removal of doors, windows and other things, with a daily pay of Four Thousand Naira (N4000) each.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that there is an outstanding age long land dispute between Ndiobasi and Ndi-heme, communities in Ivo LGA of the State which case in the court and the court judgment was made in favour of Ndiobasi Community, this prompted Ndi-heme community to go for an appeal in the upper court.
While the court process is still on, the defense council to Ndiobasi Community, Barr Kennedy Agbai took laws into his hands and hired heavily armed men numbering about 30 who stormed Ndi-heme Community Ishiagu and damaged over 10 houses, killed livestock and inflicted machete injuries on innocent citizens, living two persons, Mrs. Patricia Mbam (f) and Chibuike Kela (m) unconscious, and the victims are currently receiving treatment in the hospital at the area.
“Meanwhile, we are looking for Bar. Kennedy Agbai, he is a principal suspect. Whether to declare him wanted or not, he is wanted and the entire allegation is centered on him.
The people arrested are all saying that he is the one that invited them to carry out the attack and destructions. He is a Lawyer, if you have a court judgment in your favour, there is procedures. Do you go and hire mercenaries? He as a learned man, when we see him he will tell us more,” he stated.
However, one of the suspects, Nwachukwu Onuobia, from Akara, Abia state admitted that they were hired by Barr. Agbai to break doors and windows but that they didn’t do it. “One Barr. Kennedy Agbai from Isukwato, Abia state called us and told us that his friend wants us to do a work for him.
He didn’t tell us where the friend is and where we will do the work. It was the Barister Agbai that led us to this Ndi-heme from Abia state our place. He hired a vehicle that took us to this Ndi-heme and when we arrived, he introduced us to his friend and left us for Owerri to catch flight that will take him to Abuja for a function. Uncompleted building destroyed by the warlords