By Okereke Wilson Ogbonnaya
Misunderstanding that erupted among the people of Azu Ukwu Ewa, Amankwo Village on Friday night 22nd May 2020 allegedly resulted to the death of Mr. Azubuike Oko Inya, 49 and father of four children at Nkpoghoro Community, Afikpo North LGA of Ebonyi State.
A resident who pleaded anonymity claimed that the skirmish happened between some group of persons who are loyal to Surveyor Titus Nwachi Obila, a stakeholder and members of a faction belonging to Hon Donatus Ezeogo Ajah, former Commissioner for Border Peace and Conflict Resolution.
He told us that on the fateful day, members of the latter allegedly launched an attack on their perceived enemies for reason being that oppressed persons had been in the habit of challenging their opinions in the village and in the process Mr. Azubuike was matcheted to death by Mr. Ifeanyi Ogbonnia Chukwu.
Another resident, Pastor Emmanuel Nwachukwu while giving background information about the incident to the newsmen said that disunity started around ending of last year after Hon Donatus had single handedly gave out their communal land to ATC Telecommunication company to be used for mast installation without the consent of other villagers.
He disclosed that when the people discovered foul play in the transaction, they rejected sum of seven hundred and fifty thousand naira presented to them as money for five years lease and as a result sued both Hon Donatus and the company.
“After Hon Donatus had told us about the business, we requested for either Memorandum of Understanding or duplicate of the cheque given to him but he stoutly refused to provide us with any and having found out that he was not transparent in the deal, around January, 2020, we instituted litigation against him and the company” he said.
Following the position of Surveyor Titus who insisted that proper accountability should be made, the former Commissioner felt aggrieved and incited his supporters who allegedly threatened that war would be experienced in the area, if the matter is not withdrawn.
According to Pastor Nwachukwu, after the people had found out that the people in the camp of Surveyor Titus were not moved over the warning, they went further and erected some lockup shops at the entrance of the man’ compound as a pay back over his his adamance in the issue.
He added that after some stakeholders had sensed impending danger associated with illegal construction, they reported the matter to police and members of Local government Town planning Board whom after condenming action of the people came back some days later for demolition.
In view of the development, Hon Donatus’supporters allegedly invited a large number of suspected cultists who began to attack members of the opposition group one after the other until Mr Azubuike was matcheted to death after they had inflicted serious matchet cuts on Mr Emmanuel Eluu and others.
Another resident claimed that before now, there had been an underlying issue ravaging the area while alleging that Hon Donatus had connived with some bank officials and siphoned over N22m from the village account and after his action was reported to the police, he used his position in government and obstructed justice from being obtained.
Surveyor Titus on his part corroborated the information given by the pastor and added it was after Hon Donatus had found out that he (Surveyor) was signatory to one of the suits against him that he decided to witch-hunt him by erecting the illegal structure.
“Since 2018, Hon Donatus had been doing all manners of wickedness to frustrate our efforts from obtaining justice until recently when he influenced some persons against others in the village which had cost the life of Mr. Azubuike ” he said.
Chief Donatus in a telephone interview denied the allegation of incitement or being part of the killing and claimed that the accusation of misappropriation leveled against him was masterminded by mischievous persons who could not verify information before they would begin to rant.
“I was not at home during the incident but based on the report from eyes witnesses, it was established that the deceased returned from Cross River to kill but unfortunately he got killed from his co-supporters.”
“As I am talking to you now, some persons whom he had injured before his demise are presently lying critically in the hospitals, he said
Pertaining to the allegation of twenty two million naira, Hon Donatus told us that the owners being members of Azu Ukwu Ewa Welfare Union had withdrawn and made use of their money and pointed out that there are resolution and other documents to that effect.
He disclosed that he was not part of the people who negotiated the mast installation rather it was done by some persons who were at home then but thereafter he was choosen by the villagers to represent them which he did wholesomely without attatching interest.
He claimed that the construction of the shops was a collective effort of all male adults who levied themselves to establish a source of income to the village but surprisingly Surveyor Titus used the position of his wife who is the vice chairman of Afikpo North LGA and destroyed the property.
He reiterated that all the allegations against him are false in totality orchestrated to tarnish his good image which he had built for years.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Afikpo North Divisional Headquarters, Nwenyim Livinus Ph.D told us that there was killing in the area but for the fact that he lacks the mandate to address press, he referred us to Ebonyi State Police Headquarters.
Police Public Relation Officer, DSP Loveth Odah told our reporter that the information had not gotten to her desk as at the time of filing the report.