By Nwogha Ndubuisi Andy
Two persons have been confirmed dead and property worth millions of naira destroyed over a lingering boundary dispute between Nguji Ojiegbe Onunwakpu and Ndiegede, both in Igbeagu autonomous community, Izzi Local Government Area, Ebonyi State on Wednesday 15th July, 2020.
It was gathered that the two villagers had been on long time internal rift over a portion of land which it’s Genesis was traced back to 2012 when the people of Ndiegede was accused to have encroached Nguji Ojiegbe portion of the land which they denied claiming that the land belonged to them.
Recall that on the penultimate weekend, the state Commissioner for Internal Security, Border, Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hon. Stanley Okoro Emegha, represented by the Head of Department of the ministry, Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Igurube, and stakeholders of Igbeagu Community visited and inspected the contentious land, thereafter, ordered the two warring groups to steer clear of the land until government declared it’s stand adding that going contrary to the directive would attract government taking over the land.
However, two persons have been killed after the visit among 24-year-old Mr. Sunday Odom, a native of Ogbodo Onunwakpu and Mr. Emmanuel Uguru from Ndiegede village.
Narrating the ugly incident, the bereaved father of one of the victims and native of Ogbodo Onunwakpu, Mr. Odom Abama regretted that his son who is neither of the two warring villages was killed in a cold blooded manner.
He explained that on the fateful day, that his son went to farm to meet his sister who was harvesting cassava within the boundary area, where both villages shared boundary but was alleged to had been attacked by Ndiegede youth and shot at his waist that led to his death.
According to him, “I was in my farm that day afternoon when a report came to me that my 24-year-old son, Sunday Odom who just married with one year 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 her. We are begging State government to come to our aid”, he said
Also Speaking, Ogbodo Onunwakpu Village Head and member Eze-in-Council Igbeagu Community, Chief Mbam Nwambam Ekpem bemoaned the irreparable loss done to his village, noting that though Ndiegede once had similar boundary dispute with his people years back but had settled and wondered why his innocent kinsman was attacked by the villagers.
Chief Ekpem condemned the unusual action of the youth for raising arms against their brother village over an issue already before the government, appealing to the state Governor, Engr. David Umahi to rescue the people who had made several attempt to delineate the land but to no avail.
Narrating, one of the victims whose house and rice farm were destroyed, Mr. Ominyi Febian hinted that the crisis has been between his village, Nguji and their Ndiegede brothers who want to forcefully take over their land because they have personalities in government, noting that the boundary disagreement has lingered for over nine years and had attracted traditional council of the community, including traditional ruler and his cabinets which was to ensure peace permanently returned to the area, he divided their land into two and gave Ndiegede some part but they insisted taking the whole area as theirs.
Mr. Ominyi said, “On that fateful Wednesday, I was coming from the farm when I heard gunshot and I quickly rushed 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 has been razed down.”
“My own buildings were destroyed including all the property inside the room and they went to my rice farm and cut down the rice stems.”
Lending his voice, Secretary Igbeagu Stakeholders Forum, Engr. Jonas Ibaki condemned the action and described it as barbaric and inhumane.
He frowned at the people who despite the traditional council’s intervention declined to make peace, even when the Border, Peace and Conflict Resolution Commissioner visited, they did not exercise patience to know government’s decision but resorted to internal crisis.
“I must commend the Commissioner for Internal Security, Border Peace and Conflict Resolution, Hon. Stanley Emegha for his intervention, though, it is unfortunate that after our traditional ruler of Igbeagu autonomous community’s efforts to bring this matter to an end it lingered to this stage.”
“Regrettably, we are here facing Ukele war and our Governor have had sleepless nights in order to bring peace to the border, unfortunately, after few weeks of the Commissioner’s visit, with tension doused and we thought that peace had finally been restored; 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 inter marry and do everything together.”
“So, we are calling the state government to quickly intervene and show boundary to the two villages which is the solution to the crisis, two persons were said to have been killed.”
On his part, Nguji Ojiegbe village Head, Chief Innocent Igbahu told Citizens’ Advocate that after the Commissioner’s visit, that his village received court order which they were awarded N20m for said trespass on their land and award of the 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, the area government warned against trespassing and that resulted to the recent hostility.
Meanwhile, traditional ruler Igbeagu autonomous community, His Royal Highness, Eze Micheal Ogbonna Ukwa, faulted 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 would serve as a permanent solution to the rift as that would help the community to tackle any side that trespassed the boundary for checkmating their excesses.
Citizens’ Advocate observed that over six compounds were damaged and few others were razed down by the miscreants. Whereas, over 20 bundles of zinc and other properties were also carted away.