A 17-year-old student, Master Ojoko Friday of Noble Secondary School Ndiechi Igbeagu Community, Izzi LGA and a native of Ndinwampfu village of same community on Saturday 7th December, 2019 has been murdered in cold blood by suspected Ukelle warlord while coming back from their farm.
When Citizens’ Advocate visited the village, the village Chairman, Mr. John Ede told our reporter that on that faithful evening of the incident, late Friday was coming back from the farm with his parents and siblings but unknown to them, some suspected Ukelle warlords had laid ambush with the plan to capture them alive but luckily, they escaped when they were attacked, except the late Friday whom they apprehended and beheaded.
Mr. Ede said that the villagers have been going on their legitimate businesses since they were informed that peace has been established through youths’ and elders’ peaceful negotiation.
He said that they were asked to lay down their arms, that the rival Ukelle warlords who are mostly youths have accepted to make peace, but unfortunately his people were attacked again.
He told us that when the information came that the family was attacked that evening, they informed some stakeholders that contacted the military check post at Ipolo area who helped to trace the victim but found him already beheaded.
However, the traditional ruler, Igbeagu Autonomous Community, His Royal Highness, Eze Ogbonnaya Ukwa, has called stakeholders of Ukelle community to fish out the killers of the school boy and hand them over to law enforcement agency for immediate prosecution.
According to him, those behind the evil move are enemies of both states who are not happy with the peace effort of both sides and want to force Igbeagu Community to go on conflict renewal.
The traditional ruler while appealing to his people never to take laws into their hands by going for reprisal attack and said that both sides have witnessed great level of peace which should not be truncated because some enemies who may have been gaining through the crisis want to push them back to the war field, stating that such should be wholly ignored.
He said that arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators would show that the peace effort that’s already on course is not cosmetic and would serve as deterrent to warlords of both sides, showing them that government would not spare anybody who undermines the peace negotiation of the two states.
The traditional ruler commended the youths from the warring border communities who have been moving around the affected villages preaching peace, and tasked them not to be deterred with the recent incident but should compel their members from the area where the incident happened to provide those behind the dastardly act so as not to instil fear and doubt in their genuine movement, assuring them of his community’s support.
Recall that for decades, various border communities of Ebonyi and Cross River State have been on communal war, and thousands of lives and properties had been wasted at flimsiest excuse.
Recall also that some group known as Cross River and Ebonyi Youth Peace Development Movement (CREBYPDM), led by Barr. Prince Pascal Nwenyi have been on peace tour with youths from affected villages of both states and that had taken them to various warring border communities of both states where youths from the war zone had agreed to embrace peace.
The youth during one of their meetings with stakeholders of Obubra Local Government at the council headquarters, Obubra, lamented that the long time crisis had crippled economic activities of border communities and appealed for their support to permanently restore peace in the areas.
Barr. Nwenyi described the crisis as unholy war which no youth could vividly tell the cause, but regretted that youth being the primary victims have seen reason to intervene in the matter which has gone far to unite the two states.
He lamented that the warring communities are predominantly farmers but since the recent outbreak of hostilities, they have abandoned their homes, taking shelter as refugees in neighbouring communities which brought untold hardship on the people.
He further said that accepting permanent peace would attract aid and National Boundary Commission to do the needful in the communal land and appealed to the stakeholders to join the peace moves as no price is too high to pay for peace.
The National Vice President of the organistaion, Comrade Lucky Okpechi, an indigene of Cross River State called on his people to give peace a chance as they have seen reasons to reunite as sister communities to attract development in the affected areas.
Speaking on behalf of the traditional rulers, His Royal Highness, Ovaar Lawrence Ayang, clan head Onyena in Ofubongha of Cross River State described the team as a reflection of peace and appealed to National Boundary Commission, NBC, to take advantage of the already achieved peace and show a true boundary of the two state.
The team while handing over 19 points peace Communique signed by stakeholders from the war zone apologized to both states and federal government for taking such barbaric move and urged the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari and other concerned agencies to come to their aid.
The meeting was attended by Obubra Local Government Head of Personnel Management, Hon. Barry Inyang, Chief Alex Irek, former Local Government Chairman and past House of Assembly member, and Chief Ernest Irek, former House of Representatives member, as well as, traditional rulers and youths.
In a similar development, the group appealed to stakeholders from Abakaliki/Ikwo local governments to embrace permanent peace as a way to attract development in their zones.
The president during their meeting at Item Ikwo in Ikwo Local Government Area, harped on the need for the two brother-council areas to forgive one another and forge ahead in building their battered images.
In his presentation, Barr. Prince Nwenyi told Ikwo stakeholders that the gathering was for them to give them up-todate of their activities and seek for advice for permanent peace to resolving the Enyibuchiri/Enyigba land dispute and that of Ikwo/ Cross River State communities.
He thanked them for the level of peace so far witnessed and challenged the stakeholders to sustain the peace effort, whereas, pray for the lost souls during the crisis.
He, however, lamented that youths who are leaders of tomorrow are going into extinction because of communal crisis which poses a great challenge to the future of the people.
He pointed some of the challenges facing the joint team among mobility to reach out to all the villages for sensitization on need to engage in meaningful skill as a way to expose them in knowing that better life exist outside carrying of arms.
The vice president, Izzi/Ikwo Peace Movement Hon. Declan Ovuna, appreciated stakeholders of both local governments for their cooperation in resolving the conflict, revealing that despite the hiccups experienced since they began the move that a lot have been achieved and appealed for financial assistance to ease their movement.
He stated that maintaining the peace Accord would help them reach out to Elders of Ezza nation who had promised to resolve the Enyibuchiri/Enyigba boundary matter once the rainy season is over.
The former Coordinator applauded the team for maintaining the zeal and passion for ensuring peace is established in all the border communities of the two states and tasked them not to relent until they achieved their set target.
In his reaction, the former Ambassador, Amb. Nwuruku thanked the youth for their sincere move especially the idea of drafted Communiqué, stating that the action demonstrated had proven the true spirit of brotherhood in them.
Amb. Nwuruku pointed out that both communities lost a lot in the course of the crisis and urged youth to promote peace and use their strength for positive societal development so as to compete with developed country.
He lamented the ugly state of the community road and appealed to those in power to use the opportunity to intervene in the dilapidated and abandoned road network.
In his appreciation, the representative of Azuofia Edda community, Comrade Innocent Igwe, appreciated the team for their resilient spirit and called on the stakeholders to keep supporting the group by exposing any youth who truncates the already existing peace by ensuring such person is made to face the law.
The meeting was honoured by Chief Peter Oke, former Member III, Chief Livinus Ilang, Chief Egwu Anthony, town union president, Chief V.E. Nwede, Hon. Nweke Chibueze, among others.
Meanwhile, when our reporter contacted the Traditional Ruler Ukelle Community, His Royal Highness Odum, he told us that he was in Abuja and promised to get us feed back.
Another stakeholder in the area, Sir. Isaac Okpokpo confirmed the report on phone.
He said that he got the shocking news and quickly summoned meeting where he was told that boys from a particular village known as Okpodon was behind the killing.
He noted that, though, not in the community as at the time of receiving the call but confided on us that the youth chairman of the village had been arrested prior to the time he presents the two boys behind the act whom he claimed have fled from the village.
According to Sir Okpokpo, he said that the youth chairman told him that the boys were hired by Fulani herders who asked them to escort them to Ndinwampfu to trace their alleged missing cows.
He said that on getting there, they found a man with his family who on sighting them raised alarm that attracted some warriors from Igbeagu area that engaged them in gunshot which resulted to the killing of Mr. Ojoko and they beheaded him.
He assured the people of Igbeagu community that the already established peace would not be betrayed by the boys as their own state’s peace team would do everything within their power to arrest and persecute those involved in the crime, noting that plan is in the offing to station men of Nigeria Police Force in the area to resist all forms of breaking of law and order within the said community, even as, the four clans in the zone have put all measures to avoid the repeat of such ugly incident.