Indigenes of Umuanam, Umuizuogu and Umuekili communities of Ifite Nibo Village, Awka South Local Government Area, whose land was allegedly invaded by youths from Awka town, last Tuesday, have held an interdenominational church service on part of the invaded land, report Precious Ukeje and Uchechukwu Enem.
The church service, Fides gathered, was held to bring their indigenes together to offer prayers to God in respect of their land which they said was invaded by youths from Awka town, destroying farms and economic trees.
Speaking at the event, His Royal Majesty, Dr Sir M. C. Ngene, the traditional ruler of Nibo, who thanked priests as well as men and women of the affected communities for turning out enmasse, said the purpose of the gathering was to thank God for giving the communities reasonable leaders who did not allow themselves to be used to incite a reprisal attack on the people who invaded their land.
He noted that the land which was invaded and farmlands destroyed spanned from Ring road, through Ekili, towards Ukwu Orji and that the destruction happened without regards to even the leadership of Nibo community which he noted, he had headed for thirty-five years.
‘In the wake of this attack, we sent people to go to Awka and make enquiries on why there was such invasion. Awka people denied sending anyone on such mission,’ Ngene added.
While he disclosed that they had written to the state government, council of traditional rulers, several organizations as well as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, he said that they had restrained their youths through the youth leaders from revenging the attacks, as they expected that the federal government which had sent delegates for a preliminary investigation would come to their rescue.
While noting that such situations had occurred in several places which caused terrible losses of life and property, he also noted that the traditional ruler of Awka was away abroad for medical treatment, and that made it difficult for him to dialogue with anyone.
Addressing the press, Deacon Bertram Anene, the Deputy President General, Nibo Town Union, who said they least expected what they experienced, despite the land issues between the communities which did not extend to the ravaged areas and was in court, noted that the invaders from Awka started by uprooting economic trees in their farms and sacked their women from their farms, leaving them devastated.
Anene disclosed that they reported the matter to the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who wrote to the president, Muhammadu Buhari as they copied various organs of government, and even gathered indigenes who went on a peaceful protest to bring the government’s attention to their predication, which, however, showed little result.
He said that they managed their youths, and restrained them from fighting back until such a time which he described as being an intervention from God through humanity.
Reiterating that they had lands from Ring Road to where they have boundary with Awka town at Umubele, he said the youths who wrecked the havoc came with weapons and numbered over four hundred. He added that they informed them that they had people behind them.
Noting that they would not take laws into their hands, but rather wait for the government to act accordingly, Anene said that was the reason they gathered to hand the matter over to God in prayers.
While he urged the press to publish to the reading, viewing and listening of appropriate authorities, he, did not mention the number of buildings that were affected. He also said as at press time, that the cost of things destroyed were not yet quantified.
Adaobi Ekwunife, one of the women whose farms were affected, told the press that they could not understand what happened. Describing the situation as horrible, she added they one day, met people in their farms destroying them with tippers and caterpillars, which they reported to their men who took the matter up.
Ekwunife who added that they did not fight anyone, said the destruction affected them so badly that they could not produce palm oil and other farm produce anymore which resulted in hunger. She called on the government to quickly come to their rescue.
Another distraught woman who farmed in the land and spoke to Fides, Ifeyinwa Eke, said the destruction affected them in no little way. She added that it had become difficult to feed their children and feared it may be that way for a long time.
Describing the destruction as massive and wicked, she alleged that the destroyers who fell their palm trees did not give them the chance to harvest any of their farm produces, adding that even if they replanted palm seedlings, it would take a long time before they would be able to harvest them.
Other indigenes expressed their displeasure at the invasion and they beseeched God to intervene in their matter as it concerned the land invasion.
Meanwhile, Fides learned from the Deputy President General, Anene, that the delegation from Abuja on the orders of the Inspector General of Police would return on a later date to carry out further investigation and maybe, transfer the case to the appropriate quarters.