By Nwogha Ndubuisi Andy
Two villagers of Ndunwampfu in Igbeagu community, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi state on Friday 7th June, 2019 have lost their lives in a renewed communal clash with the warring Ukele in Yala LGA, Cross River State.
In what was regarded as resurgence of violence after a period presumed as return of peace of two months owing to the directive of ‘No shooting and stay on watch’ order of the peace committee set up by Ebonyi state government, 2 lives have been lost again.
The Chairman, Igbeagu Peace Committee, Prof. Francis Idike, said the people and the vigilantes have been summoned and directed not to engage on reprisal attack since the military has assured his committee that thorough investigation was ongoing, so as not to mar the effort and mutual understanding his group had built within the two divides.
The immediate Vice Chancellor Ebonyi State University (EBSU) hinted that on getting the shocking news, he placed phone call on traditional ruler in Ukele community, His Royal Highness “Ubiet” S. E Odum and their vigilante leader, Clement Ebi who denied having knowledge of such action which they said was carried out to sabotage the already existing peace within the boundary area, but promised to investigate the heinous act.
According to him “Our committee has established cordial and mutual understanding with the Ukelle people whom we already have a plan for maiden meeting of our delegates to initiate discussion to irrevocably end the conflict.
“We directed our people to return to their villages, but before they left, we informed the military men who did not only approved it but gave us three escorts and Ukele people were also contacted before they left, as they were clearing the village pathway onward, that’s Ndunwampfu precisely.”
“At a stage, we learnt that one man after crossing their homestead stopped back to harvest palm fruit alongside his wife, while others went ahead. Suddenly, an Ukelle man surfaced and directed him to kneel down and he shot him dead, took his wife and two children away who were released later. The woman also recounted how her husband, Mr. David Nkwede and one David Nwogayi were killed before they took away the lifeless body of Mr. Nwogayi, and he was not fount till date.”
“That was a big shock to us, because we have established in the mind of our people that both communities have embraced peace. The biggest problem is how to re-establish that trust, seeing that the people were killed not at the war front but after two months of ceasefire.”
“And conviction that peace has been rebuilt by going with military men who escorted them to their village to clear their homes; we are worried because if anything happened now, it will dislodge everything we have done so far, but we have accepted the promises made by the military to investigate the killing, even as we wait for the Ukelle people to react to ensure our people do not go on reprisal attack.
“We believe and convinced that like the Ukelles believe too, that the easiest way to bring lasting peace would be for proper boundary demarcation but we must live peacefully until boundary delineation committee does the needful.
The peace committee chairman noted that since the group commenced its activities, that peace had returned to the boundary area as all cases of shootings were explained to their satisfaction through the assistance of military men who had assured them of Ukelle people’s co-operation.
He further stated that in their various meetings with the stakeholders of Ukelle community it was revealed that the people are eager to end the crises as they are.
According to him, the Ukelle traditional ruler had lauded Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi for such initiative and appealed he communicates his Cross Rivers counterpart so that the two Governors can work together towards immediate resolution of the conflict.
The peace committee chairman said the group had set in motion the logistics of ridding the community of cultists who pose as vigilantes, harassing and terrorizing passengers and other users of the transcontinental road, and maintained that village heads and youth leaders would be held responsible for any obnoxious activitythat occurs along the road (Abakaliki –Ogoja) within the place such happened.
Corroborating the report, Eze John Nwenyi, one of the committee members hinted that no amount of destruction of property and wasteful killing would bring favour to both communities, stressing that it is against natural law and God to spill blood.
Therefore, the people of Ukelle community should embrace the peace initiative prior to the time concerned agency would carry out proper boundary demarcation where one can decide to be part of any state he falls on or relocates to choice state which he said was not unusual as the Izzians had same experience after civil war that many lost their Awkum homes.
The elder statesman appealed to the National Boundary Commission to hasten their plan so that they would take advantage of the already existing peace to restore the age-long boundary conflict between the two states.
On his part, AIG Kelvin Opoke (rtd) said that the recent incident would not stop the efforts made for their plan for the maiden meeting of Ebonyi Peace Committee delegates with stakeholder of Ukelle community to pathway forward to irrevocably end the conflict between the two communities.
Others present in the meeting were, traditional ruler Igbeagu Autonomous Community, Eze Michael Ogbonnaya Ukwa, Hon. Richard Idike, former caretaker Chairman Izzi LGA and Hon. Helen Aduga, Secretary Izzi LGA.
bonyi …2 Killed In Igbeagu As Ukeles Renew Attack