The age long land dispute between Odekpe and Alla N’Onugwa communities escalated to a serious communal clashes in November/December 2019 which left many people dead and properties worth millions destroyed.
Since then, there has been pockets of violence between both communities without serious intervention of Anambra State Government. The crisis took deadly turn on Monday when Odekpe people allegedly raided Alla N’Onugwa at about 2;45pm when the people had all gone out for fishing, killing and burning their houses, said a survivor from Alla Community.
The dispute had almost been resolved through the efforts of various community leaders in Anambra West and some religious leaders but for governor Willie Obiano inefficiency and neglect of the area. Some Odekpe indegens claimed that the fresh crisis started when Alla people went to fish in one of the lakes notwithstanding a standing order that non of the parties should farm, fish nor build on the disputed portions pending the final resolution of the crisis.
They claimed that the land in question belongs to them and that there is a court judgement obtained years back that conferred the ownership of the land on Odekpe community. They furthered stated that some of the peace initiatives by the community leaders agreed that the land belongs to Odekpe but should be shared between Odekpe and Allah N’ Onugwa but Alla did not wait for the implementation before going to fish in the said land.
However, Alla people claimed that the lake in question called Adi Abalumeta is not in the disputed region adding that are disposed to peaceful resolution of the crisis. According to them, the fishing lake is situated toward their boundary with Kogi and wondered how Odekpe will move all the way pass Alla N’Onugwa to claim a land situated between Onugwa and Kogi. Onugwa is the last border community between Anambra State and Kogi.
They claimed that when Odekpe people got the hint that they have all gone out for the fishing harvest, they Odekpe people quickly mobilized and came to Allah, start shooting and burning their houses. They killed our elderly, women and children. Don’t forget that there’s a judgement from a competent court of law that clearly stated that this land they are referring to belongs to us, Allah people said.
Aside loss of lives, farm lands were also destroyed in the last crisis that has crippled both communities and till now people are dead sacred going to their individual farms, . Se what has happened to is now, we are now refugees at Kogi, one of the survivors lamented.
From information gathered the remnant of Allah/Onugwa are now taking refuge in Ujeh, Ichalla Ujeh in Ibaji LG of Kogi State and in Igbamaka and Ilushia communities of Edo State.
Most Anambra West indegens felt disappointed that the State Government couldn’t mobilize the police and other security agencies to the area before now despite signals and skirmishes of violence in the area. The people were also disappointed that the Area Commander that visited the area left almost immediately without stationing his men in the area. It is very unfortunate that the recent crisis which started late 2019 has claimed several lives and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.
It was expected that the Government of Anambra State under Dr. Willie Obiano should have stationed security personnel in the buffer zone to maintain law and order pending the resolution of the crisis. This is an avoidable crisis, the deaths and burning of houses would have been averted but for governor Willie Obiano razzmatazzing and non responsive to the issues of security and development in Anambra West.
Since there has been pockets of violence in these communities before now, the government of Anambra State failed to protect and secure the lives and properties in these communities which is the primary responsibility of every government.
The indegens are worried that Dr. Willie Obiano has not really shown leadership in all the affairs that concern the local government. During the Novermeber/December crisis between the communities, it was expected that the government of Anambra State under Dr. Willie Obiano should have at least stationed security agencies in those communities to forestall further breakdown of law and order and even sent relief materials to mitigate the suffering of the people, said one of the indegenes.
Till now, Anambra State government and her agency, Anambra State Emergency Management Agency has not visited the area nor give any form of assistance to these people who loss their loved ones with their properties and farm lands destroyed as well.
The people are therefore calling on Dr. Willie Obiano and the federal government to please come to their rescue. The people needs food, shelter, medical care and every form of support.
Dr. Willie Obiano should act now to bring lasting peace and security to these affected communities.