By NWOGHA NDUBUISI ANDY, Abakaliki
The people of Agubia in Ikwo Local Government Area, Ebonyi State were on Thursday thrown into confusion when a group of boys from the community allegedly embarked on sporadic shooting over the leadership tussle of Ikwo Central Motor Park.
According to one of the villagers who spoke on the ground of anonymity, told us that the crisis started on Saturday night when a group of boys started shooting sporadically and chasing everybody on sight away which forced shop owners to shut down their shops and flee for safety.
He narrated that the group are of two factions who are divided based on political party interest battling which of the group to take leadership of the Ikwo central motor park Agubia, pointing out that even when both groups are youths from the same community, that they harass passers-by and that has resulted in the total shut down of every business activities within the place and villagers who live within the park to also flee for their safety.
“We were outside yesterday night being Saturday when we started hearing heavy gun shut with it’s noise everywhere while people are closing their shops and running for safety. The shooting was at a time so intense that a particular group was said to had received bullet shot but because they did Odeshi(spiritual bullet proof) the gun did not penetrate their body”
“Meanwhile, we ran inside because they were not sparing passers-by and they shoot throughout the night till this morning when we see police convoy loaded with both army and police men before we came out because the gun shot continued again till today”
“We are appealing that police should continue to parade in the place for some time before they leave because they might resume at night again immediately they leave the community”
One of the victims, a commercial motorcyclist Mr. Udoka Asaga, a native of Onyikwa Amagu told Our reporter that he was coming from a trip when some group of boys confronted him while entering the park, thereafter, released him after his introduction and they said he was a stranger and had no knowledge of what was happening before another group in a distance place seized his bike which effort to recover the motorcycle resulted to serious wound and battered body.
He told us that when he ran to the market hoping to get help, was surprised seeing that people had fleed the entire place but was rescued by one Mr. Otubo who accommodated him till Sunday morning when he reported his case to one of the stakeholders,Mr. Pius Nwali who promised to intervened in the case.
The victim said that, while he was still waiting for the stakeholders to meet that Sunday morning that the two groups also clashed resulting to serious shooting until police convoy arrived at the junction, noting that though he recognized one of the boys who made away with his motorcycle.
However, stakeholders of the community on Sunday morning summoned the entire three villagers to a meeting at the play ground where they dissolved the existing park leadership and constituted new members,as well as, seven men peace Committee headed by Chief Joseph Anaga.
The new park leadership and the peace Committee were saddled to take charge of the park whereas the committee should ensure that normalcy is fully restored in the area.
Speaking with our reporter shortly after the town hall meeting,Hon. Edward Owata Ogbega,from imogo-Igbudu, one of the community stakeholders noted that they have three components villages where the crises was of intense, comprising Uduku, Nduofia and Obegu where the park is situated and said, the crises came to them as a suprise but noted that the image of the community was badly battered and had to come together and resolved to disband all the earlier existing committees, thereby, constituted new members.
He said the major issue arosed from leadership and poor management of the major source of the community revenue been the motor park, as such constitutes a fresh peace Committee and park agents at the play ground to bring peace in the area.
His words” This misunderstanding came to us as a suprise but this morning all the leaders in the community came together and what we have succeeded doing is to restore peace, been that this place has been battered badly and those thing causing the problem is anchored on leadership and mismanagement of the community source of income, the motor park.”
“We decided to disband the old and new committee which the DPO had asked us to return because since they asked of their tiredness to continue,let them go.
“We constituted today peace Committee headed by Chief Joe Anaga. They are seven which two from each of the component villages of the area: two from Nduofia, two from Obegu and two from Uduku while we selected one person to chair it, then, we have the Secretary Mr. Emmanuel Ali.
Also, we said since the park is a joint project between us and the Development Centre, we asked them to fill one person as their agent while the other three villages should bring one person each and they should start working tomorrow morning.
“Whereas, we are moving from here to the junction to tell people to open up their shops and start their lawful businesses.
The Member representing Ikwo South at the State Assembly, Hon. Moses Odunwa, who was present told us that he was shocked when the news came to him but expressed his happiness over the elders intervention in restoring peace at the area.
He condemned the youth action describing it as unfortunate and babaric stressing that he would consult all the elders to ensure he forestall future reoccurrence of the conflict.
He said” There was a civil disturbance here, it was quite unfortunate that the conflict was intra communal, between two brothers. We have been monitoring it for two to three days now and I have spoken with many of our elders but we thank God that even when property was destroyed that no life was lost.
“I am suprise that during election we do not have either inter or intra communal crisis here but regrettably, we woke up to see the ugly incident. Meanwhile, we thank Ebonyi State Government, our Women and security agencies for their intervention, which after making my consultation I will come up with a plan on how to forestall the future reoccurrence of the conflict.
On his part, the Coordinator Ikwo Central, Barr. Leonard Nweke, hinted us that he learnt that the crisis was as a result of leadership of the park which According to them stipulated three years for period of tenurship but those in power having spent over four years which resulted to the imbriglio.
According to him”What transpired According to them was that their leadership last for three years but the people in power who came into office since 2013 and have been there because of the death of the substantial Chairman which vice took over.
“They decided to change the government which caused the crisis and it was reported to Divisional Police Officer and the council Chairman who decided to disband the new constituted leadership because it appeared to be illegal since they were established with neither the Local Government chairman or myself consent or had they notified the DPO or had they obtained permission from the state government which is accordingly with the new directive of the state government that no village or town union should hold election without the authority approval.
The Coordinator debunked the rumour making the round that houses were razed down and people killed due to the crisis, and maintained that the place has been put to order with the help of the community leaders and security Agencies, believing that with the common understanding reached at the town hall meeting that permanent peace has been established in the place.
Meanwhile, contacting Ebonyi State Police Public Relation Officer, ASP Loveth Odah, she told us that men of Nigeria Police force would stop at nothing to ensure that the community experiences permanent peace, whereas, effort to speak with the local government Council Chairman proves abortive as he was not in the community meeting nor respond to his text messages.
By NWOGHA NDUBUISI ANDY, Abakaliki